CIRCLE Calls New College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Social Studies Framework a Step in the Right Direction
The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), the preeminent youth research center based at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, applauded the new College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards released earlier today by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). The C3 Social Studies Framework—developed by over twenty states and fifteen social studies content organizations—was designed to help states strengthen their social studies standards.
Peter Levine, director of CIRCLE and the Chair of the C3 Civics Writing Committee, called the new framework, “consistent with the most current civic education research.” CIRCLE has studied the existing state standards and requirements for civics and found that the current state policies, as implemented, are not sufficient to boost students’ civic engagement and knowledge. Levine said that if the new C3 Framework is adopted by states, “it should improve students’ civics education experience if paired with good materials, professional development for teachers, appropriate tests and assessments, as well as ongoing education evaluations.”
The new C3 Social Studies Framework is not a fully-developed set of state standards; instead, states will retain both the right and responsibility to select specific content and otherwise set their own standards. The framework simply offers guidance at a relatively general level. Consistent with CIRCLE’s research, the C3 Framework includes perennial, fundamental principles of republican government, such as those described in the founding documents of the United States. It also expects students to deliberate about real-life issues in their classrooms, schools, and/or communities, and to take appropriate actions of various kinds.
“The ‘action’ component of the C3 Framework—the deliberation of real-life issues in the classroom, coupled with various kinds of experiential learning—is not a new idea,” said Levine “In fact, ‘action’ was a much more significant component of civic education in the mid-20th century than it is today. Although ‘action’ is still mentioned in some current state standards, it has diminished as civics has narrowed to political science. The ‘action’ component in the C3 Framework is based on extensive research by CIRCLE and others that shows the importance of experience and practice to civic learning,” he concluded.
More than 3,000 social studies professionals, university scholars, and others reviewed and commented on the C3 Framework throughout the development process, which took over three years. The full document is available free of charge at: www.socialstudies.org/C3.