New research shows Tennessee one of top states for civics education requirements

Authored By Staff Report

A national assessment of civics education requirements released Wednesday by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) found that Tennessee has some of the strongest statewide civics education requirements in the nation. 

CIRCLE is a youth research organization based at Tufts University, and the national assessment conducted by the organization also found growing weakness in support for citizenship, law, current events and related topics in many schools.

Tennessee students, however, are required to take three credits of social studies or civics classes, and a new law will also require them to complete a portfolio of civic work and community service learning requirements.

The fact sheet, funded by the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation and released Wednesday by CIRCLE, covers all 50 states and shows that, for the 2012-13 school year, 21 states require a state-designed social studies test.

This is a decrease from 2001, when 34 states conducted regular assessments on social studies subjects.

Eight states provided standardized tests on civics or American government: California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Ohio and Virginia are the only two that require students to pass that test in order to graduate from high school-yet Florida and Maryland have plants to add that requirement.

“Social studies courses such as history, civics, and economics provide students with the necessary civic skills and knowledge to be effective 21st-century citizens,” according to the fact sheet. “However, since the passage of No Child Left Behind, many states have shifted focus away from social studies and have dramatically reduced the number of social studies assessments.” 

You can download the full fact sheet here.