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Washington State K-12 Civics Education Survey

A traffic circle with a small grassy area with an American flagpole in the center. On the edges of the circle are stone buildings in the Federal style with large columns on the front facade
A mixed-methods data collection effort to thoroughly understand how Washington teaches civics
  • Client
    Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Dates
    April 2022 - November 2022


Understanding the current civics education landscape is vital. 

The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) seeks to provide every student with high-quality civics education. To move toward that goal, it wants to develop a thorough understanding of what is happening on the ground, which involves assessing activities in 295 public school districts and six state-tribal education compact schools. OSPI hired NORC at the University of Chicago to help define the current civics education landscape. 


NORC is gathering information that is broad and deep. 

NORC is leading a mixed-methods data collection that includes nine semi-structured interviews with elementary, middle, and high school social studies teachers to gather feedback on concerns and issues about civics materials, instructional time, and methods for implementing civic education K–12 in the state of Washington. NORC will use this information to develop a customized questionnaire tailored explicitly to civics education in Washington. Our data collection also includes an online survey of all schools to gather systematic information on numerous facets of civics instruction, including name of curricula, dose and duration of instruction, topics covered, instructional methods, and implementation challenges. 


Policymakers have an effective tool to improve instruction for all students.

In November 2022, NORC completed their analysis of the data and found that most districts reported implementing some form of civics instruction either “embedded in Social Studies” or “embedded across two or more subject areas.” Additionally, district leaders indicated that having access to a learning community of civics/social studies content specialists was helpful for their implementation of civics instruction. A high-level learning from this partnership is that improving the delivery of high-quality civics instruction takes humility and intentional collaboration of a variety of stakeholders—from the educator in the classroom, district administration guiding decision making, and researchers providing insight on best practices.

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