Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April Board of Ed: Civics education

backup for this is here
and the civic engagement plan is here
Student day at the State House where students role play parts of government

Three recommendations coming out of the task force today:
  • Develop a communications strategy about the importance of civic learning and engagement in students' success
  • Increase visibility of civic learning and engagement offerings and highlight best practices using data
  • Strengthen the teaching and learning of civics
Six working strategies for civics engagement 
1. Classroom Instruction: Schools should provide instruction in government, history, economics, law, and democracy.
2. Discussion of Current Events and Controversial Issues: Schools should incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives.
3. Service-Learning: Schools should design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.
 4. Extracurricular Activities: Schools should offer opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities outside of the classroom.
5. School Governance: Schools should encourage student participation in school governance.
6. Simulations of Democratic Processes: Schools should encourage students to participate in simulations of democratic processes and procedures.
(Source: Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools.)

should be across the curriculum
students need to discussion controversial issues in the classroom
students need to be actively engaged in school governance

made a core piece of college and career readiness
taskforce underway for the last year
revision of history and social studies framework and "civics is a central piece of that framework"
in early stages of development of "next generation MCAS"
"have clearly in mind" civics are part of that
getting a better sense of where we stand as a state and where districts stand in implementation

revising frameworks for rest of this year while "pursuing development of the next generation MCAS"
plan is for frameworks to be adopted next year

Peyser: how would you distinguish test development this year as opposed to next?
A: "very preliminary" work this year
Peyser: field testing questions next year?
A: very early to do that
Peyser: is that a funding question or are there other questions putting on the
"could we have field testing next year and have a fully developed assessment for '19-20" if we pushed a little bit
Chester: did some development on a history/social studies assessment a number of years ago
runs for need for longer development
"does have fiscal implications"
"would have to walk through these steps"
Peyser "concerned we lose the sense of urgency"
"we all know the testing and the assessment system itself is part of the incentive...that ensures this actually happens"
McKenna: have lived through several rounds of history and social studies standards redrafted
concerned that civics is embedded in the curriculum
"I have seen how long it takes and how strong people feel about what is in history...I think it's going to be an extremely long process, and I'm afraid that this will get lost"
some legislation pending: requirement of a civics project, once in elementary school, once in high school
Peyser: embedding civics in history best outcome that could be hoped for
"history frameworks are quite strong...hope we aren't just throwing them out and starting all over again"
A: working on a framework that would best support teachers
"not just about process, it's about learning that real core content in a real substantial way"
Moriarty: want to see frameworks strengthened, need for assessment
have students just coming out of high school, can avoid history
"how much do we impose from this statewide level and remain effective?"
how much are we going to require (in response to assessment) and how much are we going to encourage a broadening at the local level
Legislature: "unfunded mandate"
"they're going to mandate more social studies, there's only so many hours of the day; when is that going to happen?"
ten minute recess

Sorry, missed who these guys are:
"We've been talking about this for some time...moving forward, what we can do about it"
from a researching perspective "why is this important?...the study of civics has largely disappeared from the public schools"
"and when civics is taught, it is largely textbook-based...they're not about the active learning, quality practices that are more impactful"
while voting has gone up a bit in the last elections, half of young Americans don't vote in presidential elections, and only a quarter vote in local elections
"there is a substantial body of research here that shows what works...classroom learning...with a more active learning...with service learning and civic engagement...with school government beyond the more traditional student government where you got to design the prom and not much else"
messaging "where what's been communicated is what's important is reading and math and increasingly STEM and civics is the forgotten stepchild"
accountability "around the six proven practices"
where is it happening and where can we build on it
chances for real service learning at elementary, middle, and high school
"real need for resources" for teachers to be able to say "I can do this" have real active learning while covering material
need to do all three things
"in terms of assessment, I don't think there was any appetite on the task force for another test"
"more experiential based learning'
"where in civics we're looking at skills, and bringing knowledge to the community"
Berlin-Boylston superintendent: service learning
have developed a global studies curriculum
"we do a lot outside the classroom as well as inside the classroom"
"developed a 'global competency' within our schools"
"it's about being citizens"
school partnerships: have sister schools in Shanghai
"building that global awareness has been very, very important"

Noyce: "is there a mismatch between our goals and our strategies"
hear you saying not enough young people are voting, are volunteering, so let's change our history and social science framework
I wonder if we as the Commonwealth have laid out for ourselves goals about how many young people we think should be voting, volunteering, or is it success on a NAEP-like test of content
"has the task force thought about an ongoing evaluation program" in things like voting and volunteering
A: inventory districts implementation of strategies
and quality of instruction and quality of programs in the districts
didn't go into follow up after they graduate, could be something that could be considered
also: strongly encourage "civic engagement at younger ages becomes a culture...not a checkoff on a checklist and then it's done...a want and need to want to help the community"

Morton: very much supports this area
"if we invest in young people in civic learning and civic engagement, we'll see the dividends"
"what are we talking about in terms of the resources needed for a successful program in the Commonwealth"
A: haven't done an assessment analysis
Berlin-Boylston superintendent "don't tell me you don't have the funds; tell me how you're getting it done"
Berlin-Boylston was funded at 35% over NSS in FY16
also: "cost per student could be very very low"
"civic action projects and service learning into the classroom, enhancing ELA and math"

Doherty: we're really talking about two different things: a class where you learn about the Supreme Court and all that; the other civic engagement
would a high school have an option to have a course in civics instead of embedding it?
"not a big fan of any more tests in our schools...but there is one test that's optional on the history of labor, and the AFL-CIO gives out...scholarships..." suggests that businesses could do likewise for civics
Doherty mentions the citizenship test required

McKenna: difference between history and civics
"you can talk a test on the three branches of government and get a hundred on it and know nothing about civic engagement"
on testing "I agree with Ed, we already have enough of it"
about voting and civic engagement "we know the way to do that is not testing them, it's engagement"
students vote "where there's a democratic institution where their voices are heard"
civic engagement "engages all the students on all ends of the spectrums"

Moriarty: very promising practice at Holyoke High School on restorative justice
students who are doing it, very small group, high impact

Chester: praises the superintendent

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