The Eagleton Institute offers the Eagleton Assessment, an online assessment that measures the levels of civic engagement of high school freshmen. The project was piloted in a handful of high schools in 2007.
The Eagleton Assessment goes beyond measuring students’ levels of civic knowledge and demographic characteristics. Instead, the assessment takes up the challenge issued in The Civic Mission of Schools (2003) to consider attitudes as well as civic and political skills when measuring civic engagement. As a result, the Eagleton Assessment includes questions regarding civic knowledge as well as questions that gauge students’ levels of political efficacy and trust in government, discussion and news consumption; and propensity to express themselves and engage in community and electoral activities. This well-rounded approach to youth civic engagement is consistent with the emphasis placed on active citizenship in New Jersey’s revised core curriculum content standards.
The Eagleton Assessment is placed online and made available to participating high schools for their students to take at the beginning of the academic year and again towards the end of the year. The Eagleton Institute provides school administrators summary data of their students’ levels of civic engagement at the conclusion of each survey.
Value and Impact
The Eagleton Assessment provides schools with an efficient means for measuring the quality of their institution’s civic education, both yearly and longitudinally. With this tool, schools can evaluate the effectiveness of their civics curriculum; collect data useful for strategic planning and/or crafting benchmarks for improvement in civic instruction; and demonstrate accountability to public officials. The Eagleton Assessment also provides a useful method for measuring the strength of schools’ character education and their success at equipping students with 21st Century skills.
The Eagleton Assessment also promises to serve as a valuable resource for researchers, policymakers, and the public. The assessment will provide district-level data on levels of civic engagement from schools and students of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds – data that exist nowhere else. With this information, more rigorous attention can be given to the quality of civic education, the factors affecting its quality, and the effect of civic instruction on young people’s sense of citizenship.
For more information, contact:
Elizabeth C. Matto, Ph.D.
Director, Youth Political Participation Program