May 2023
A Deeper Dive into What NAEP Civics Tells Us: Urgent Need for Policies Supporting Effective Practices
Earlier this month, we shared our initial reaction to the release of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Civics results. The first statistically significant decrease in student performance since the current test’s inception in 1998 attracted widespread concern and pontification. While we share the former, it’s imperative to dig deeper into the data to determine what drives student performance in civics in order to scale best practices in schools and classrooms. Our four principle conclusions are as follows:
1.   How and what we teach matters: Teachers’ daily or almost daily use of primary source materials when teaching social studies correlated with a 21-point boost in student performance compared to teachers who never use primary sources. Moreover, students who studied the U.S. Constitution “a lot” outperformed students at all other dosages, a 15 point difference from students who did not study it at all.
2.   Teacher dispositions matter: Teachers’ confidence in their ability to explain the importance of participation in the political process and government correlates with a 35-point difference in performance between students whose teachers “definitely can” explain this and those whose teachers “definitely can’t.”
3.   Civic learning opportunities matter: Demographics too often continue to be predictive of whether or not students receive civic learning opportunities that correlate with stronger student performance: 52% of White students, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and students of two or more races experienced a class in 8th grade where civics was the primary focus compared to 46% of American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic students and 44% of Black students.
4.   Families matter: Students who talk about their studies at home two to three times per week outperform those who never or hardly ever talk about them by 20 points. Additionally, students who are attentive to news about current political events outside of school daily or two to three times per week outperform those who never follow the news by 19 points.
At the local level, schools and districts as a matter of policy and practice should partner with parents to foster students’ civic development.
At the state level, policymakers should ensure students have access to courses with civics content. Currently, only seven states require a stand-alone middle school civics course; 26 others, including the District of Columbia, require some civics instruction; and 18 require no civics instruction in middle school.
At the federal level, the tripling of funding for national civics programming in Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) is a good start, but Congress must continue to grow these appropriations in FY24 and beyond. Congress should also reintroduce the bipartisan, bicameral Civics Secures Democracy Act, which represents a generational investment in K–12 civic education, with specific focus on the teacher pipeline and schools and districts serving under-resourced student populations.
Let’s make the most of these valuable insights from our “Nation’s Report Card” and urgently translate them into effective policies and practices. If successful, the next NAEP Civics data release in 2030 will demonstrate we are well on our way to sustaining and strengthening our constitutional democracy through improved civic knowledge and skills among students.
Yours in civics,
Shawn Healy
Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy, iCivics
Inside this newsletter:
  Research Roundup
  Civic Learning Week 2024
  All-Member Meeting Recap
  New Members
Research Roundup: Integrating Civic Concepts Into Early Grades Argumentative Writing
A team of education researchers worked collaboratively with school curriculum specialists and elementary teachers to design units introducing students to civic perspective taking. Students practiced their arguments verbally, presenting their stance on an issue and differentiating from other perspectives using claims and evidence. As a result, students’ engagement with civic concepts became more complex and purposeful. Additionally, students were more motivated to write argumentatively when asked to take positions on local issues.
Save the Date: Civic Learning Week—March 11–15, 2024
You’re already part of the movement for civic education across the nation—join us next year in bringing together students, educators, policymakers, and leaders as part of Civic Learning Week to further energize the movement to make civic learning a national priority.
Stay connected and be the first to learn about virtual and in-person opportunities for both inside and outside of the classroom!
All-Member Meeting Recap
The May all-member meeting featured information on the federal Civics and History Grants funding available for coalition members, analysis of the recent NAEP Results covered by The Washington Post, and updates from the three Affinity Groups:
  Research and Best Practices Brown Bag and new Discussion Guide resource;
  Awareness coordination for Civic Season (Juneteenth through July 4th); and
  Policy and Advocacy appropriations requests.
New Members
The CivXNow Coalition continues to grow, now officially standing at more than 300 member organizations! The latest additions include:
  Blue Star Families
  Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
  The Education Trust
  Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy
  Living Room Conversations
  National WWI Museum and Memorial
  New Jersey Black Empowerment Coalition
  New Voters
  New York Public Library
The Coalition remains deeply appreciative of member efforts and of all we have accomplished together. Our goal is to aggregate and activate large networks of support to expand and re-imagine civic education as a force for civic strength. To our Coalition members, thank you for your partnership.
If you are part of an organization interested in joining the CivXNow Coalition or learning more, please contact us at
Our Mission
CivXNow is a coalition of partners from diverse viewpoints working to create a culture shift that elevates civic education and engagement as a national priority in order to protect and strengthen America’s constitutional democracy. This includes building a shared commitment to ensure that all young people are prepared to assume their rights and responsibilities to participate in civic life and address the issues facing students, their families, and communities in our increasingly dynamic, polarized, and digital society.
To achieve this goal, CivXNow advocates for bipartisan federal and state legislation that supports implementation of state and local policies that reimagine and deliver relevant, inclusive, and engaging K-12 civic learning, both in- and out-of-school.
A Team Effort
The CivXNow team produces this newsletter each month.
We are grateful for the energy, time, and guidance of the CivXNow Advisory Council and to many, many others who support individual projects.
The important work of CivXNow is generously funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Einhorn Collaborative.
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