Over the past decade, public attention on the importance of the civic development and education of youth has grown. To address these concerns, the East Bay Conservation Corps (EBCC) Charter School opened in 1996 with the explicit mission to prepare and engage students grades K through 12 as caring citizens who are capable and motivated to fully participate in our democracy. While content standards and assessments readily exist to articulate the academic and artistic development of students, youth civic development, especially at the elementary level, has been under-conceptualized. What is needed is a more robust, comprehensive developmental framework for citizenship education that begins with younger ages and addresses civic skills and dispositions to the same degree as civic knowledge.
The product from this project is a set of tested, reliable measures of civic knowledge, civic thinking skills, civic participation skills and civic dispositions that are referenced to recent efforts to provide frameworks of competencies in civic education. Two sets of instruments were developed using a comprehensive conceptual framework for civic indicators at the elementary level. The measures include a student survey of student civic knowledge, skills and attitudes that relate to dispositions, which is the focus of this report; a set of corresponding grade level observation checklists of student skills and behaviors was also developed.
Starting at a young age to foster developmental foundations for civic engagement includes a democratic orientation to others and identification with them as fellow members of a community and body politic. This focus is not only developmentally appropriate but also consistent with the goals of many elementary schools to foster prosocial skills and behaviors. In addition, there is a need for greater attention to age-appropriate, instrument identification and development for elementary aged students to document student civic development by focusing on what they can do, an important and often overlooked facet of K-12 civic education research and practice. Addressing this need will also assist other public elementary schools interested in recapturing their civic mission and in creating a K-12 developmental framework for civic development.
Chi, Bernadette; Jastrzab, JoAnn; and Melchior, Alan, "Developing Indicators and Measures of Civic Outcomes for Elementary School Students" (2006). Civic Engagement. 41.
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