In June 2018, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) of Massachusetts released the first new framework since 2003. In response to a growing need for strong civic education in a changing political environment, this framework introduces or increases standards for civics in grades 3 and 5 as well as introducing a year-long 8th grade civics course for the first time. In addition, the standards expand high school U.S. History and World History from one year each to two years each. Across both the elementary school and high school requirements, there is also an increase of emphasis on research and media literacy. In addition the Massachusetts State Assembly and State Senate have both passed a bill requiring two action civics projects, one before 8th grade and one before graduation.
While the new standards pose several challenges for Massachusetts teachers at all grade levels, 8th grade civics in particular is in an emergency situation as no model curriculum exists as of yet. The Ten Questions team, under the auspices of Harvard’s Democratic Knowledge Project, plans to build the 8th grade civics curriculum, offer professional development opportunities, and hone assessment instruments.
The new civics framework for the 8th grade highlights seven practice standards. As part of the initial phase, we present how the Ten Questions framework aligns with the practice standards and content standards espoused in the new civics framework (see the tables listed below). Further updates will be provided as appropriate.