Civics Education to be Part of Social Studies Content Standards

October 20, 2003

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board placed on public comment during its October meeting revised content standards that will better prepare students in social studies.  

The State Board approved the initial work on the social studies content standards (Policy 2520.4) in December 2001. This revision adds language allowing high school students to participate in electives in civics/government, economics and geography.  

“Living in an increasingly dynamic world reinforces the need for effective and systematic educational programs in these areas,” said State Schools Superintendent David Stewart. “These courses can better prepare our students to become more informed, effective and responsible citizens of our state, nation and world.”  

The revised policy will be on comment until November 17, 2003.  

Last month, several WVDE representatives participated in the First Annual Congressional Conference for Representative Democracy in Washington, D.C. More than 300 participants from across the country attended this three-day event, which was an effort to bring about national awareness of civic education.  

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West Virginia’s delegation included West Virginia Board of Education member Priscilla Haden, State Schools Superintendent David Stewart, House of Delegates member Ray Canterbury (R-Greenbrier), West Virginia School Boards Association President William Raglin and WVDE Social Studies Coordinator Sharon Flack. Ms. Haden also served as the facilitator for the three-day event.  

Four principles were endorsed during the event:  

• Civic education should be a central purpose of education essential to the well-being of a representative democracy; • Civic education should be seen as a core subject. Well-defined state standards and curricular requirements are necessary to ensure civic education is taught effectively at each grade level; • Policies that support quality teacher education and professional development are important to insure effective classroom instruction and raise student achievement; and • Classroom programs that foster an understanding of fundamental constitutional principles through service learning, discussion and current event, or simulations are essential to civic education.  

Also during the October meeting, the State Board of Education voted to place Policy 2444.4, regarding the issuance of High School Equivalency Diplomas. The policy is being revised to reflect changes in the administration of the General Education Development (GED) tests, establish passing scores, define the dropout rate and allowing testing under extraordinary circumstances. The policy will be on comment for 30 days.

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