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Author: Racine Jacques
Publication Date: Dec. 2016

About the Report

  • A classroom climate that promotes more open discussion affects more than what students know about civics and government; it also affects the development of students’ civic values.
  • Most student respondents appear to have a classroom climate that allows them to express their opinions and encourages discussion.
  • Having a say in what happens in the classroom is particularly important in promoting the development of civic values.
  • The absence of a classroom climate that promotes open dialogue has a more noted negative effect on the development of civic values among students who are racial minorities and those who are less affluent.
  • Overall, giving students a greater say in what happens in the classroom and a platform to express their opinions has a powerful effects on the development of civic values, including seeing the importance of speaking up for fairness, equality, and liberty.

This Snapshot is one in a series highlighting results from the spring 2015 Civic Attitude and Engagement Survey. The Survey, conducted in May on behalf of the Partnership for Civic Learning, is based on the responses of more than 7,000 seventh grade students who were just completing a full year of civics instruction. Districts participating in the Survey included MiamiDade, Clay and St. Lucie. More information on the survey may be found in the “About the Survey” at the end of this Snapshot.

Civic education is intended to prepare students for their roles as engaged and responsible citizens in a democratic society. Thus, it is intended to provide students with knowledge about the system of government and civic life and to build the skills and civic dispositions associated with democratic citizenship. The Civics End-of-Course Assessment tests student knowledge, but does not assess civic skills and dispositions. That is the goal of the Civic Attitude and Engagement Survey.

In this Snapshot, we consider the extent to which classroom climate contributes to the development of students’ civic values.