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Civic Readiness Initiative

The New York State Board of Regents is committed to civic education that empowers all students to make informed decisions for the public good as members of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. Civic education facilitates the development of civic competencies, which are needed for a democratic society to flourish. Through civic education, students learn how to identify and address problems in their community or school community.  Students also learn how to demonstrate respect for the rights of others, respectfully disagree with other viewpoints, and provide evidence for a counterargument.  Civic education can strengthen the relationships of schools and students with parents, families, civic leaders, and organizations and community partners. 

In January 2020 The Civic Readiness Task Force appointed by the Board of Regents presented their recommendations to the Board of Regents.  The recommendations include a Seal of Civic Readiness, a definition of Civic Readiness and the elements of a Civic Capstone Project.

Civic Readiness Task Force
Name Title Organization
Allison Armour-Garb Senior Advisor P-20 Policy Coordination and Strategic Planning New York State Department of Education
Dawn Bartz Director of Social Studies Yonkers CSD
Laura Bierman Executive Director New York State League of Women Voters
Brian Carlin Social Studies Instructional Coach New York City Department of Education
Michael Coppoteli Associate Superintendent Public Policy and Student Services Archdiocese of New York
Cheryl Couser Deputy Director of Public Information New York State Board of Elections
Barry Derfel Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES
Michael DiMezza Director of Career Technical Education Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES
April Francis Social Studies/Online Learning Curriculum and Staff Development Specialist Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES
DeNora Getachew New York City Executive Director Generation Citizen
Bill Hecht District Superintendent Orange-Ulster BOCES
Joseph Karb Middle School Social Studies Teacher New York State United Teachers
Jessica Karnes Coordinator of Staff Development, Curriculum, Differentiated Instruction and Data, K-12 Social Studies Erie 1 BOCES
Lisa Kissinger Academic Administrator for Social Studies, Grades 6-12 Shenendehowa CSD
Steve LaMorte Director of Social Studies Rochester City SD
Debra Lesser Director Justice Resource Center
Tony Lopez Executive Director Zone 126 Neighborhood Community Schools
Nicholas Norman Field Liaison United Federation of Teachers
Kamorudeen Olayokun Jr. Assistant Principal PS 78, Staten Island
Aruna Patel Instructional Specialist New Visions for Public Schools
Charles Perreaud

Jury Commissioner for the NY State Courts in Monroe Co. and Court Interpreting Coordinator

7th Judicial District
Christy Radez Associate, Office of Curriculum and Instruction, Lead Facilitator for the Civic Readiness Initiative New York State Department of Education
Michael Rebell Executive Director, Center for Educational Equity, Chairman of the Civic Readiness Task Force Teachers College, Columbia University
Joe Rogers Director of Public Engagement, Senior Researcher, Center for Educational Equity Teachers College, Columbia University
Jenna Ryall Social Studies Instructional Coach NYC DOE
Peter Sawyer History Department Chair, Director for Service Learning and Civic Engagement Hudson Valley Community College
Joe Schmidt Social Studies Instructional Coach New York City Department of Education
David Scott Law and Civics Educator Coordinator Northport CSD
Chris Sperry Director of Curriculum, Project Looksharp Ithaca College
Ellen Sullivan Assistant in Educational Services New York State United Teachers
Tara Thibault-Edmonds School Media Library Specialist Roundout CSD
Christine Zapata Social Studies Instructional Lead, District 31 New York City Department of Education
Joseph Zaza Founding Principal Nicotra Early College Charter School

 

Seal Of Civic Readiness
  • The Seal of Civic Readiness may be a 4+1 pathway.
  • The Seal of Civic Readiness may also be a stand-alone diploma seal for students who choose a different 4+1 pathway.

Students who receive the NYSED Seal of Civic Readiness must earn a total of 6 points, with at least 2 points from column #1 (Criteria for Demonstrating Proficiency in Civic Knowledge) and at least 2 points from column #2 (Criteria for Demonstrating Civic Participation). 

Criteria for Demonstrating Proficiency in Civic Knowledge Criteria for Demonstrating Civic Participation
Category Pts. Category Pts.

1a. Social Studies required for graduation:

  • Obtain course credit in Global History & Geography I
  • Obtain course credit in Global History & Geography II
  • Obtain course credit in United States History & Government
  • Obtain course credit in Participation in Government & Economics

Or the equivalent of these courses, as approved by the local public school superintendent or his or her designee or by the chief administrative officer of a registered nonpublic high school

1

2a. Civic Skills, Actions, and Mindsets

  • Complete a culminating high school civic project that demonstrates civic knowledge, skills, actions and mindsets, as established by the local Seal of Civic Readiness Committee (SCRC).  (The culminating project is different from the Capstone and further explained in the Introduction to the Seal of Civic Readiness.)

 

 

1.5*

1b. Social Studies Regents Exams - Mastery level

  • Demonstrate mastery level on the Global History & Geography Regents and/or United States History Regents

1.5*

2b. Civic Experiences Area I

  • Complete a service learning project that includes a minimum of 25 hours of demonstrated service to community and submit a reflective civic learning essay.

1*

1c. Social Studies Regents Exams- Proficiency Level

  • Receive a passing score on the Global History & Geography Regents and/or United States History Regents (apply safety net if eligible)
1*

2c. Civic Experiences Area II

  • Demonstrate mastery in an elective course that promotes civic engagement (as defined by SCR committee) and submit a written application of knowledge essay. 

.50*

1d. Advanced Social Studies Courses

  • Demonstrate proficiency in an advanced social studies course (e.g. Honors, Pre-AP, AP, IB or College/University level approved by the school district; including dual enrollment courses or others approved by the SCR Committee.
.50*

2d. Civic Experiences Area III

  • Participate in an extra-curricular program, or work-based learning experience that promotes civic engagement or civic action for a minimum of 40 hours. Write an application of knowledge essay. This may be accomplished over four years of high school.

.50*

1e. Research Project

  • Demonstrate civic knowledge through a social studies research project. This project must be approved by the District’s Seal of Civic Readiness Committee. 
1

 2e. Middle School Capstone Project

  • Complete the middle school capstone project that includes the essential elements listed below:

Identify an issue (local, state, national or global)

Apply civic knowledge, skills, actions, and mindsets to the issue

Present the overall project to the Middle School Capstone Committee.

1*

   

CAPSTONE PROJECT 

The Capstone Project that includes these Essential Elements: 

  • Identify an issue (local, state, national, or global)
  • Apply civic knowledge, skills, actions, and mindsets to the issue
  • Engage in a civic experience based on the issue to influence positive change to the community (local, state, national, or global)
  • Present overall project to the school’s School Of Civic Readiness Committee
4

*Students may receive these points more than once.

Testing accommodations recommended in an individualized education program or section 504 Accommodations Plan must be provided for all State and districtwide assessments administered to students with disabilities, as consistent with State policy. * Students in schools with an alternate pathway for graduation approved by the Commissioner will be held to those schools' criteria.

Definition Of Civic Readiness

Civic Readiness for All Students

 Definition:

Civic readiness is the ability to make a positive difference in the public life of our communities through the combination of civic knowledge, skills and actions, mindsets, and experiences.

Background:

Civic Ready students use civic knowledge, skills and mindsets to make decisions and take actions for themselves, their communities, and public good as members of a culturally diverse, democratic society.  Schools, therefore, must provide students meaningful opportunities to develop specific civic knowledge, skills, and mindsets—and to participate in authentic actions and experiences—that are necessary for them to function as productive civic participants within their schools, communities, states, our country and the world.  

The New York State Education Department is committed to empowering the civic agency of students and ensuring all students achieve civic readiness as a result of their prekindergarten - 12th grade education.  The Regents have also emphasized this position in their Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) understands that the results we seek for all our children can only be fully achieved by incorporating an equity and inclusion lens in every facet of our work.

Civic education strengthens the relationships between schools and students, as well as students’ relationships with parents, caregivers and families, civic leaders, community partners, and among each other. The responsibility of ensuring all students are Civic Ready is a chief aim of social studies education.

Civic Readiness Domains:

Civic readiness is continuously developed throughout students’ prekindergarten - 12th grade education and should include:

Civic Knowledge

Demonstrate a fundamental and functional knowledge of government, law, history, geography, culture, economics, and current events.  These may include inequities within our democratic system at the federal, state and local level. Students should know how to apply this knowledge to different circumstances and settings.  

Civic skills and action

Demonstrate a broad array of critical analytic, verbal, communication, media literacy and other skills and participate in a wide variety of actions. Students should practice such actions both inside and outside of school on a regular basis.

Civic Mindsets

Demonstrate the mindset of a participant in a democratic society. A civic mindset is a commitment to democratic interpersonal and intrapersonal values, virtues, attitudes, and beliefs and informed actions that promote and facilitate meaningful participation in civic life.  It is an understanding of self as part of and responsible to larger social groups.

Civic Experiences

Participate in developmentally appropriate civic experiences. Civic readiness should be developed in a variety of settings and ways—inside and outside of the classroom, across content areas, and for multiple purposes. Civic Readiness should be promoted by engaging students in relevant experiences that include students as active participants. 

Domain Examples:

Civic Banner one  Civic Knowledge

 Fundamental civic knowledge in grade level appropriate forms includes:

  • The structure and functioning of government, law, and democracy at the federal, state, local, and school levels, and how to participate therein;    
  • Civil and educational rights and responsibilities guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of New York, and federal, state and local statutes and regulations;  
  • History, geography, economics, and current events within our country and in our global society;  
  • The impact of individual and collective histories in shaping contemporary issues;   
  • View and analyze history and current issues from multiple perspectives
  • The importance of civic rights and responsibilities, such as voting, volunteering, serving on a jury, and the importance of ensuring a free press;

Civic Skills banner new  Civic Skills & Actions

Critical intellectual and participatory civic skills students should develop and actions they should take in grade-level appropriate forms include the ability to:

  • Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and classroom debates, and how to respectfully disagree with other viewpoints and provide evidence for a counterargument;
  • Participate in activities that focus on a classroom, school, community, state or national issue or problem;
  • Identify, describe and contrast the roles of the individual in opportunities for social and political participation in different societies;
  • Work to influence those in positions of power to achieve extensions of freedom, social justice, and human rights;
  • Fulfill social and political responsibilities associated with participation in a democratic society and the interdependent global community by developing awareness of and/or engaging in the political process;
  • Analyze and evaluate news (news literacy), media, social media and other sources of information for accuracy, bias, reliability, and credibility.
  • Engagement in working toward the public good

Civic Mindset Banner  Civic Mindsets

Key civic mindsets students should develop in grade-level appropriate ways include:

  • Valuing equity, inclusivity, diversity, and fairness;  
  • Recognizing the need to plan for both current needs and the good of future generations;  
  • Empathy, compassion, and respect for the views of people with other opinions and perspectives;
  • Committing to balancing the common good with individual liberties;  
  • Demonstrating a sense of self as an active participant in society, willing to contribute to solving local and/or national problems;
  • Respecting fundamental democratic principles, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the rule of law.  

Civic Experiences banner  Civic Experiences

Examples of civic experiences in which students should be able to participate in grade-level appropriate ways include:    

  • Completing a civic readiness capstone or, civic engagement project;
  • Engaging in service-learning;   
  • Engaging in civil discourse around controversial issues;  
  • Engaging with news and digital tools, such as social media, responsibly;
  • Participating in civic-centered co-curricular and extracurricular activities such as Model UN, Student Government, Debate Club, Moot Court, Student Journalism or Mock Trial;
  • Participating in school governance;  
  • Voting, volunteering and participating in community organizations and governmental systems, such as community boards, youth advisory councils, etc., to promote continuous improvement;
  • Engaging with local officials and government institutions through activities such as providing public comment before a government agency, or meeting with public and elected officials.
Civic Capstone Project

Participation in government and in our communities is fundamental to the success of American democracy[1].   Students choose to complete the Civic Readiness Capstone project to demonstrate their readiness to make a positive difference in the public life of their communities through the applied combination of civic knowledge, skills and actions, mindset, and experiences.  Through this project, students will apply knowledge and skills they have learned through their P-12 Social Studies education, as well as other subject areas. 

In this Civic Readiness Capstone project, students will:

  • Identify a civic issue (problem) facing them, their school, or their community
  • Analyze a civic issue (problem), evaluate alternative solutions, design and/or execute a solution for this problem.
  • Take informed action to address the civic issue.
  • Reflect on what they have learned about their school or community from the Capstone project.
  • Make a presentation about their Civic Readiness Capstone project

High School Capstone Projects completed for the Civic Readiness Diploma Seal include these essential elements based on the Definition of Civic Readiness:

Essential Elements

Civic Knowledge

Civic Skills

Civic Mindset

Examine Community

Demonstrate an understanding of the structure and function of government and democracy at the appropriate level, and how to participate therein.

Identify, describe, and evaluate the relationships between people, places, regions, and environments by using geographic tools to place them in a spatial context.

  • For example, students can conduct community walks/drives and asset map their community.

Define and frame questions about events and the world in which we live, form hypotheses as potential answers to these questions, use evidence to answer these questions, and consider and analyze counter-hypotheses.

Identify opportunities for and the role of the individual in social and political participation in the school, local, and/or state community. 

Identify Issues

Integrate alternate, divergent, or contradictory perspectives or ideas.

Describe the impact of individual and collective histories in shaping contemporary issues.

 

Analyze a civic issue (problem) in the community

  • For example, include data to describe the number of people affected by the issue, the age/gender/socio-economic status of the people affected by the issue, the geographic impact of the issue, the environmental impact of the issue, etc.

Integrate evidence from multiple disciplines into  Capstone Project.

Reflect on how different cultures have values, norms and beliefs that shape how they understand their communities and the problems they face.

Conduct Research

Describe how the issue affects the daily lives and shapes the perspectives of similar and different stakeholder groups. 

  • For example, conducting interviews and administering surveys will help students understand the issue from different perspectives, including diverse cultural groups.

Analyze and evaluate news, media, social media and other sources of information for accuracy, bias, reliability, and credibility. 

 

Analysis

Analyze a civic issue (problem) in the community, describe past attempts to address the issue, generate and evaluate alternative solutions to a civic problem.

Weigh appropriate evidence from multiple disciplines to support claims, which may include political science, history, natural sciences, economics, geography, and sociology.

Reflect on how personal attitudes and beliefs are different and the same from those of other cultures and communities.

Integrate what can be learned through engagement with diversity into the Capstone Project.

Develop Strategies and Solutions

Design and/or execute a solution for this problem.

Evaluate the feasibility of proposed actions to address the community or civic issue.  

  • For example, determine an appropriate course of action; deconstruct and construct plausible and persuasive arguments using evidence.

Analyze factors that influenced the perspectives of stakeholders involved in the civic issue central to the Capstone Project.

Integrate alternate, divergent, or contradictory perspectives or ideas.

Take Informed Action

 

Design and implement a Capstone Project that engages the school and/or out-of-school community.

  • For example, determine an appropriate course of action; work to influence those in positions of power to strive for extensions of freedom, social justice, and human rights; develop an awareness of and/or engage in the political process.

 

Communicate

 

Communicate in a civic context, showing the ability to express ideas, discuss, persuade, debate, negotiate, build consensus and compromise to organize and conduct civic action.

Strategically use different forms of communication to persuade/advocate and express ideas.

Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and debates; respectfully disagree with other viewpoints.

 

Reflection

 

 

Analyze Capstone Project experience, reflecting on the process that was implemented, challenges faced, project limitations, successes, future civic actions and transferable skills. 

Demonstrate and reflect on a sense of self as an active participant in society, willing to contribute to solving local and/or national problems.

1Based on the New York State Social Studies Practices, Grades 9-12, the New York State Performance Level Descriptors for the Global History & Geography II and the U.S. History & Government Regents exam, the NYSED Definition of Civic Readiness, and the American Association of Colleges and University VALUE Rubric for Civic Engagement.

Relevant Definitions:

  1. Asset map: Asset Mapping is a tool that relies on a core belief of asset-based community development; namely, that good things exist in communities and that those things can be highlighted and encouraged — these are assets suited to advancing those communities.  There are six categories of community assets: physical, economic, stories, local residents, local associations, local institutions. For more information about asset mapping, visit vistacampus.gov
  2. Communication methods include in-person/face-to-face, print, digital (i.e., social media)
  3. Perspective(s): outlook, point of view, position on or towards an issue
  4. Stakeholder: a member of a particular status group that holds a specific self-interest in regard to a particular social problem or public policy

Middle School Capstone Projects include these Essential Elements based on the Definition of Civic Readiness:​​

Essential Elements

Civic Knowledge

Civic Skills

Civic Mindset

Examine Community

Identify situations in which social actions are required.

Participate in activities that focus on a classroom, school, community, state, or national issue or problem with the support of the classroom teacher.

Identify opportunities for and the role of the individual in social and political participation in the school, local, and/or state community.

Identify Issues

 

With the support of the classroom teacher,  identify a civic issue (problem) in the community.

  • For example, define and frame questions about events and the world in which we live, and use evidence to answer these questions.

Identify rights and responsibilities as a citizen of the community and the state.

Conduct Research

Describe how the issue affects the daily lives and shapes the perspectives of similar and different stakeholder groups. 

  • For example, conducting interviews and administering surveys will help students understand the issue from different perspectives, including diverse cultural groups.

Analyze and evaluate news, media, social media and other sources of information for accuracy, bias, reliability, and credibility. 

 

Analysis

 

With the support of the classroom teacher, evaluate alternative solutions to address the community problem.

 

Develop Strategies and Solutions

 

With the support of the classroom teacher, identify or develop solution(s) in the form of a public policy.

  • For example, recognize an argument and identify evidence that supports the argument; examine arguments that are related to a specific social studies topic from multiple perspectives; deconstruct arguments, recognizing the perspective of the argument and identifying evidence used to support that perspective.

Communicate in a civic context, showing the ability to express ideas, discuss, and persuade when presenting ideas.

 

 

Take Action

 

With the support  of the classroom teacher,

  • Develop an awareness of and/or engage in the political process.
  • Create a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities to adopt their proposed policy.

Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and classroom debates; respectfully disagree with other viewpoints.

Work to influence those in positions of power to strive for extensions of freedom, social justice, and human rights.

Communicate

 

Participate in persuading, negotiating, and compromising in the resolution of differences and conflict; introduce and examine the elements of debate.

Demonstrate respect for the rights of others in discussions and debates; respectfully disagree with other viewpoints.

 

Reflection

 

 

Analyze the experience, reflecting on the process that was implemented, challenges faced, successes, and future civic actions.

Based on the New York State Social Studies Practices, Grades K-12