JHU Institute for Education Policy and SNF Agora Institute Announce Civic Education Tools

IEP and SNF Agora offer a suite of resources for K-12 school systems to assess and promote civil dialogue, robust political knowledge, and the habits of democratic citizenship.

Johns Hopkins University is committed to supporting the civic formation of young people. We are pleased to announce the release of a suite of JHU resources that can be used by K-12 school systems—whether district, charter, or private—to assess and promote civil dialogue, robust political knowledge, and the habits of democratic citizenship. Please join us for a webinar on September 29 to discuss these resources in light of the 2020 election cycle.

The Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy, with support from the SNF Agora Institute, has created the Social Studies Knowledge Map. This new tool is used to analyze a social studies curriculum in terms of the knowledge it offers students, and it allows policymakers to see the domains of knowledge that are opened up in the reading as well as those that are missed, to what degree, and over what grade span. Also assessed is whether a given unit includes more than one perspective and whether materials encourage an open classroom climate.

Join us on Tuesday, September 29, 11–11:45 a.m. EST, for our Social Studies Knowledge Map Introductory Webinar! Read more here.

In addition to this tool and in advance of the November elections, the SNF Agora Institute and the Institute for Education Policy at Johns Hopkins recently released a report designed to offer school leaders a set of research-based practices on how to foster respectful, productive dialogue among your students.

Written by Kelly Siegel-Stechler, a research fellow at the Institute for Education Policy and PhD candidate at the School of Education, “Election 2020: Engaging Students in Civic Discourse” offers practical guidance in managing political discussion and civil dialogue. The report also aims to help teachers and principals consider structural or personal biases that may render such conversations more difficult, and provides an overview of available resources that support positive, engaged classroom debate.

“With the 2020 U.S. election cycle under way, educators are looking for ways to help their students engage meaningfully with, learn from, and maintain civility around political discourse,” Siegel-Stechler writes.

The report was written with face-to-face learning in mind but can translate easily to remote-learning contexts.

The JHU Institute for Education Policy offers a variety of tools to help teachers and administers assess their school’s curriculum and culture:

Social Studies Knowledge Map™

With support from the SNF Agora Institute, the JHU Institute for Education Policy has developed tools to analyze a social studies curriculum in terms of the knowledge it helps students learn and apply. We conduct this analysis by “mapping” the knowledge domains that are implicit in the selection of the sources and texts that are discussed. We also assess whether a given unit includes more than one perspective, and whether the teacher-facing materials encourage deliberation and disagreement. Throughout the review process, the Institute works closely with instructional leaders to ensure that the map reflects the system’s vision of an educated person and includes specific knowledge domains that matter locally. This is a one-of-a-kind instrument. Read more here. 

English Language Arts Knowledge Map™

The Institute also offers a similar tool to analyze ELA curriculum in terms of the knowledge it offers students about the work and the human condition.  The Institute, and our key partner on this initiative, Chiefs for Change, created a database to curate the findings and report cross-sections of data by text, grade-level, and knowledge domain. This resource allows new insights about the knowledge domains and topics that students are exploring in classrooms across the country. Read more here.

School Culture 360™ for Face-to-Face and Remote Learning Contexts

School culture is an important component of a school community. Strong school cultures have been linked to numerous positive academic and civic outcomes—from short-term assessment performance to long-term civic engagement and educational attainment. The JHU Institute for Education Policy has designed a research-based, best-in-class survey that identifies the alignment of a school’s mission with its practices and determines whether a school’s practices correspond to those we know support academic achievement, social and emotional well-being, and civic formation. Read more here.

Teacher Survey of Curriculum Use

Research from around the world indicates that a strong curriculum improves student learning. But adopting a high-quality curriculum is just the first step; teachers must be supported as they learn to wield it effectively. The Institute’s Teacher Survey of Curriculum Use gathers data about the taught curriculum through a survey of the system’s K-12 teachers, developed from the RAND Corp.’s American Teacher Panel. The survey questions explore teachers’ use of system-approved materials, recourse to on-line and ancillary instructional materials, professional development on the curriculum, and division of time. The results serve as evidence of teachers’ habits in using materials and provide a benchmark analysis against which schools can measure instructional initiatives in the coming years. Read more here.