Education

Do Colorado's high school civics requirements affect the number of young people who vote?

Page 2 of 2

Starting in the spring of 2014, Colorado students will be tested in social studies along with math, reading and science. The tests will include questions about civics and will be given to students in fourth grade, seventh grade and once in high school, says Stephanie Hartman, the social studies content specialist for the Colorado Department of Education.

Back in 2010, we wrote about several civic-minded groups lobbying the State Board of Education to add social studies to the list of subjects in which students are tested. The state standardized tests are currently called TCAP -- the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program -- as the state switches from its old testing system, CSAP, to a new one aligned to recently adopted educational standards.

One geography professor's argument was particularly compelling. She shared the results of a recent map test she'd given her community college students. One student labeled the Rocky Mountains "the Alps," another ID'd Alaska as "Germany" and a third created a new state: South Virginia. In addition, she said only six students knew Joe Biden was the vice president. One guessed it was Barack Obama.

"Civic education is how we prepare people to be good citizens, which was the original purpose of public schooling in the United States," says Peter Levine, the director of CIRCLE. "It's pretty badly needed."

Continue for more on how Colorado stacks up.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar