Continuous Improvement in Civic Education through Research, Development and Evaluation

About the PCL

Civics in a Snap

Civics in a Snap is a curriculum development project focused on Elementary Civics Lessons for Grades K-5. Results of the project may be seen at Civics in a Snap.

View Civics in a Snap

Modeling over- and under-performing schools

This project will annually examine school performance on the Civics EOC. A regression model will examine the relative contribution of community, school, and student factors in explaining difference between higher and lower performing schools. In selected districts, where data are available, the effects of school climate will also be examined. Using analysis of residuals schools that are over- and under-performing relative to their predicted performance will be identified. Current year analysis may be seen in the Papers, Reports and Snapshots section.

Case studies in effective civic education practices

The purpose of this study is to learn about strategies that schools have used to perform well on Florida's new Civics EOC assessment; particularly schools whose students have performed better than schools with comparable student profiles. The study's goal is to identify practices that may be helpful to other schools across the state. This project is ongoing.

Strategies for improving civic learning in Florida: A review of evidence from other fields

This project focuses on developing a guide to best practices for student engagement in civics, based on lessons derived from more than a decade of student testing math, science, and ELA/reading. Although relevant findings from studies of elementary and high schools will be considered, the project's primary focus is on middle school. In addition, the project will focus on studies that are concerned with improving practice and student learning in low performing schools. Teaching Briefs resulting from this project may be seen in the Papers, Reports and Snapshots section.

The Student Attitude and Engagement Survey

Florida's Civics End-of-Course Assessment provides valuable data on students' civic knowledge, but it does not measure the effect of formal civics coursework on civic attitudes, dispositions or behaviors which are equally important outcomes for democratic citizenship. The state's End-of-Course Assessment in Civics appropriately focuses on academic knowledge and skills, and it is important to complement that instrument with measures of dispositions. The Civic Attitude and Engagement Survey, is a voluntary survey intended to measure student civic dispositions and levels of engagement in their schools and communities. It also measures the extent to which students report being exposed to best practices in civic education and knowledge of current events. The survey is administered at the end of the school year following the Civics EOC. Timely reports are sent to all participating teachers and district social studies curriculum personnel.

Development of a Problem-Based Learning Curriculum for High School American Government

In 2008, a research team from the University of Washington's College of Education and the Bellevue School District in Washington began a collaboration that created the Knowledge in Action Project. The Project's goal was to redesign AP American Government as a PBL course that would lead to the same or better scores on an AP test when compared with students of similar backgrounds and prior academic performance who are taking a traditionally taught course? It also sought to use a PBL framework to demonstrate deeper conceptual understanding of the subject matter as measured by an assessment of deeper learning when compared with students experiencing the traditionally taught course. Since 2008-09 results have shown that students who experience AP American Government in a PBL framework score well on the AP Examination, demonstrate deep conceptual learning, and are highly engaged with the course.

Beginning the summer of 2016, PCL will work with Leon County Schools with the goal of replicating the Knowledge in Action framework in Florida's one-semester AP and non AP American Government courses. Rigorous evaluation is planned at each stage of the project.

The Vertical Civics Institute

The Vertical Civics Institute builds on the model established by the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the Lou Frey Institute for their Civics Master Teacher program. Recognizing that Civics must be a focus not just in middle school, this program will bring together teachers from the elementary, middle, and high school grades to focus on vertical integration of content and pedagogy with a C3 Framework in mind. Participants will be drawn from ‘bubble' districts that need a slight push to get their students to achieving at least a 3 on the EOCA, and will involve these teachers in an ongoing and collaborative professional development. Importantly, the program will engage them in the completion of a capstone project centering on a local community problem to be solved.

Education Faculty Summit

Higher education teacher education programs remain the source of much of Florida's first year teacher population. It appears, however, that there is not a coordinated approach to the preparation of pre-service educators to teach civics. This program, which is intended to be a yearly retreat, will bring together pre-service teacher faculty educators from across the state of Florida, from all levels of higher education. As a collaborative group at the initial meeting, we will examine strategies to strengthen civic education preparation models and support new directions in research. The long term goal is to turn this effort into a conference style session that will support cross-institutional faculty collaboration on civic education pre-service teacher preparation.