Civic Education: New Graduation Requirement
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If you have further questions
about Social Studies education, contact:

Carol Coe, Social Studies
Program Supervisor


Social Studies

Civic Education Initiative: Requirements and Resources

What is the Civic Education Initiative?
OSPI is working to ensure that every student is provided with a high-caliber civic education from kindergarten through high school graduation. We are calling this the Civic Education Initiative.

What is effective K-12 civic education?
Effective civic education is both education for democracy and education as democracy.

This means that throughout their education, students must be given multiple opportunities to experience democratic conditions and to participate in democratic processes.

In Democratic Schools, authors Apple and Beane suggest seven conditions on which a democracy depends. These are the foundations for a democratic way of life:

  1. The open flow of ideas, regardless of their popularity, that enables people to be as fully informed as possible.
  2. Faith in the individual and collective capacity of people to create possibilities for resolving problems.
  3. The use of critical reflection and analysis to evaluate ideas, problems, and policies.
  4. Concern for the welfare of others and "the common good."
  5. Concern for the dignity and rights of individuals and minorities.
  6. An understanding that democracy is not so much an "ideal" to be pursued as an "idealized" set of values that we must live and that must guide our life as a people.
  7. The organization of social institutions to promote and extend the democratic way of life.

What are civic education laws and regulations in Washington state?
The primary laws and regulations for civic education are:

See the complete list of social studies laws and regulations.

What civic education is required for Washington students?
Washington state law requires 3.0 social studies credits for high school graduation, with a 0.5 credit required in civics. Course content to earn the civics credit must include, but not be limited to:

  • Federal, state and local government organization and procedures;
  • Rights and responsibilities of citizens addressed in the Washington state and United States Constitutions;
  • Current issues addressed at each level of government; and
  • Electoral issues, including elections, ballot measures, initiatives, and referenda.

What is the C3 Framework?
The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework establishes clear and strong standards for social studies instruction. It provides a powerful resource for teachers and administrators as they work to strengthen programs:

  1. Enhancing the rigor of social studies disciplines (civics, economics, geography, and history);
  2. Building critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills for engaged citizenship; and
  3. Aligning social studies academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.

What are ways for Washington teachers to provide strong civic instruction?
According to Guardian of Democracy: Successor Report to the Civic Mission of Schools, there are six proven practices for enhancing civic education:

  1. Classroom instruction
  2. Discussion of current events and controversial issues
  3. Service learning
  4. Extracurricular activities
  5. School governance
  6. Simulations of democratic processes

Learn more about the six proven practices:

“Abundant research shows that civic literacy is just as critical to student success as literacy in math and English. And civic supports district work in many areas, like anti-bullying, the new arts initiative and the new Common Core education standards.”

What are ways for civics to be assessed?

What are the civic observances in Washington state?
There are four civic observances:

  • Constitution Day and Citizenship Day — September 17
  • Veterans Day — November 11
  • Temperance and Good Citizenship Day — January 16
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — Third Monday in January


Civics Education Poster


Learn more about Washington’s annual civic observances.


   Updated 4/20/2016

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