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National Council for the Social Studies Calls for Authentic Assessments of Civic Learning

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Board of Directors has approved a position statement Affirming Support for Alternatives to the USCIS Naturalization Test as a Measure of the Civic Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions of Students. This statement calls on local and state level education decision-makers, as well as teachers, to choose from the many existing quality civics assessments aligned with quality instruction and to utilize them, instead of the USCIS Naturalization Test, as a more authentic measure of civic education teaching and learning outcomes: knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to become active and engaged participants in civic life.

The statement expresses concern over the use of the USCIS Naturalization test as a measure of effective civic learning since it is simply a series of questions intended as one step in the naturalization process for immigrants pursuing citizenship. Using this test to measure quality civic learning would have the unintended consequence of making the measurement one-dimensional and insufficient in determining the effectiveness of a civic education that teaches the vital skills and dispositions necessary for ensuring well-rounded, literate, and engaged citizens.

NCSS President Terry Cherry said, “It is a critical time to ensure that we use assessment tools that will best guide our efforts in educating for an active and engaged citizenry. My deepest thanks and appreciation for the efforts of the lead writers of this excellent document!”

“NCSS is pleased to offer this guidance to all educators on keeping authentic assessment front and center as the most appropriate tool in measuring effective civics teaching and learning,” said Dr. Lawrence M. Paska, Executive Director of NCSS.

To read the complete position statement and the context for its recommendations visit: