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Building the Case for Action Civics

By: Jessica Gingold, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Today, CIRCLE released Working Paper #78, “Building an Evidence-Based Practice of Action Civics: The Current State of Assessments and Recommendations for the Future” by Jessica Gingold, Harvard Graduate School of Education. Gingold assembles evidence for “action civics” as a field and describes the organizations that engage youth in (or assess) action civics programs. She examines 27 evaluation tools that they use, uncovering their common framework and implicit theory of change, which includes six outcomes:

• Civic and cultural transformation
• 21st century positive youth leadership
• Active and informed citizenship
• Youth civic participation
• Youth civic creation
• An academically successful student

Over the past two decades, youth development organizations and civic education leaders have adopted action-centered approaches to teach civic and leadership skills. In 2010, six groups came together (including CIRCLE) to form the National Action Civics Collaborative (NACC) with a common interest in promoting experiential civic learning, especially for under-served and marginalized youth. Recently, we released a new report on Generation Citizen, which is another founding member of NACC.

In addition to describing a theory of change and related outcomes, this report identifies assessment challenges that NACC members face and offers recommendations for strengthening assessment.

Suggested citation: Gingold, J. (2013) Building an Evidence-Based Practice of Action Civics: The current state of assessments and recommendation for the future (CIRCLE Working Paper No. 78). Retrieved from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) website: