Testing Civics: State-Level Civic Education Requirements and Political Knowledge
David E. Campbell, University of Notre Dame
Richard G. Niemi, University of Rochester
Do state-level exams in civics have a positive impact on young people’s civic knowledge? We hypothesize that civics exams have the biggest effect in states where they are a requirement for high school graduation—the incentivehypothesis. We further hypothesize that civics requirements have the biggest effect on young people with less exposure to information about the U.S. political system at home, specifically Latinos and, especially, immigrants—the compensation hypothesis. We test these hypotheses with the 2006 and 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics test administered to high school students, and with a large national survey of 18–24 year-olds. Across the two datasets, we find modest support for the incentive hypothesis and strong support for the compensation hypothesis. Read more.
American Political Science Review / Volume 110, Issue 3 August 2016, pp. 495-511