With support from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, CIRCLE has released a working paper that explores digital badges and alternative assessments for civic skills, knowledge, and dispositions. This working paper, entitled “New and Alternative Assessments, Digital Badges, and Civics: An Overview of Emerging Themes and Promising Directions,considers digital badges as well as ePortfolios, rubrics, games, simulations, and other assessment and learning tools that might expand options for those committed to improving civic education. The working paper is also summarized in an an online presentation.
In a recent factsheet on state civic education requirements, CIRCLE concluded that while “all states have standards for social studies or civics” the number of states that require assessment on social studies has decreased since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the “scope of the assessments has become increasingly narrow.””
States are, to a greater extent, using multiple-choice-only tests that focus primarily on memorizing information, rather than demonstrating civic skills. Furthermore, assessments focus mostly on the history and geography of the United States; far fewer states assess students in world affairs or economics. Ninety-six percent of states require the completion of at least one social studies course to graduate from high school. Yet only eighteen percent require an assessment of the knowledge and skills gained in these learning environments. At the very least, we are not recognizing in any comprehensive way what civic skills and competencies students are acquiring; at worst we are not providing them with the necessities to be engaged citizens of the 21st century.
The digital badge–as well as alternative assessments like ePortfolios, rubrics, games and simulations–may help overcome these difficulties. We are interested in what you have to say about these tools and practices.Join the conversation below.