Sutherland on KUER: Discussing new civics education data

June 4, 2021

This week Sutherland Institute released new civics education data showing Utahns believe that civics education is one of the top three most important school subjects – right along with math and reading – but that it’s not taught well enough.

Christine Cooke Fairbanks, Sutherland Institute’s education policy fellow, chatted with Jon Reed at KUER to talk about the key takeaways from the data, including the fact that parents generally have a high opinion of their schools, Utah parents want more transparency in what’s being taught, and that capstone projects or portfolios are preferred over standardized testing.

How to approach testing in civics education is particularly interesting, since Utah policymakers have recently debated how to assess civics education knowledge in recent legislative sessions. Currently, students have to pass a test made up of questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services to get their high school diploma. Some policymakers have wanted to replace the test while others wanted to abolish it altogether. Other advocates want to move toward “civic engagement projects,” though according to the data, respondents believe “activism” in civics ought to come at the very end of a civics education.

Furthermore, as news continues to crop up about controversial subjects being taught in the classroom, it appears that the data is right: A discussion about transparency in schools is important to many parents.

For more on this data, you can check out the new Sutherland Institute study here.

You can listen to the KUER radio segment here or read the full news story here.

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