Civic Education Policies: State Profile

Civic Education Policies: State Profile - Tennessee

December 2016

Data are collected using publicly available state statute, administrative code and, in some cases, curriculum and standards frameworks. A profile was sent to each state for review and modification, as needed.

Description Citation/Link
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies High School Graduation Requirements
Are there high school graduation requirement in civics or citizenship education? 3 units of Social Studies, including U.S. history, world history/geography, economics and government.  Rules of the State Board of Education: Rule 0520-01-03-.06
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Standards and Curriculum Frameworks
State standards include civics or citizenship education The Tennessee State Academic Standards for Social Studies (grade-level standards for K-8, course-specific standards for high school) include a strand of standards for Government and Civics in grades K-2. Civics content is embedded in the social studies content in later primary grades and is also embedded in the “Contemporary Issues” and “United States Government and Civics” high school courses. The goal of the high school Government and Civics course is for students “to study the purposes, principles, and practices of American government as established by the Constitution. Students are expected to understand their rights and responsibilities as citizens and how to exercise these rights and responsibilities in local, state, and national government. Students will learn the structure and processes of the government of the state of Tennessee and various local governments.”

Sample standards/benchmarks include: identifying the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States (grade 2), and analyzing how the Bill of Rights limits the powers of the federal government and state governments (high school, United States Government and Civics course).
Tennessee Academic Standards for Social Studies (2013)
Curriculum frameworks include civics or citizenship education N/A
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Inclusion in Assessment and Accountability Systems
State assessments include civics, citizenship education or social studies “Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, in conjunction with the social studies curriculum, all school districts shall implement a project-based assessment in civics at least once in grades four through eight and at least once in grades nine through twelve. The assessments shall be developed by the school district and designed to measure the civics learning objectives contained in the social studies curriculum and to demonstrate understanding and relevance of public policy, the structure of federal, state and local governments and both the Tennessee and the United States constitutions.”

The student evaluation program for grades kindergarten through grade 8 includes "A norm-referenced test in grades 3 through 8 in reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies." 

Additionally, high school students, "shall be given a United States civics test composed of questions from the one hundred (100) questions that are set forth within the civics test administered by the United States citizenship and immigration services to persons seeking to become naturalized citizens."
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1028, Tenn. Admin. Code R. 0520-01-03-.03, Tenn. Code Ann. s. 49-6-408
State accountability system includes civics, citizenship education or social studies N/A
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Addressed in Other State Statutes or Administrative Code
State statutes (laws) that address civics, citizenship education or social studies “The general assembly finds that: (1) Effective and responsible participation in political life as competent citizens requires the acquisition of a body of knowledge and of intellectual and participatory skills; (2) It is essential to the future health of our republic that all citizens be knowledgeable about democratic principles and practices, including fundamental documents such as the state and federal constitutions, the Declaration of Independence, and the Gettysburg Address; (3) Individuals who have a clear and full understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a republic are more likely to exercise and defend those rights and responsibilities; and (4) Providing civic education and promoting good citizenship and understanding fundamental democratic principles should be core missions of Tennessee secondary schools.

Teachers or administrators shall not be restricted to using or reciting excerpts from listed historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution, Pledge of Allegiance, etc.

"Every four-year high school...shall require every student to have at least one year of instruction in American history and government, preferably in the fourth year."

The Board of Education is required to ensure that the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions are taught in Tennessee public schools.

"The course of instruction in all public schools shall include character education to help each student develop positive values and improve student conduct as students learn to act in harmony with their positive values and learn to become good citizens in their schools, community and society."
Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1028, Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1011, Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1202, Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1203 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1007
State administrative code addressed civics, citizenship education or social studies State standards require “social studies curriculum shall consist of three units and shall include United States history, world history/world geography, economics, and government. The requirement may be met either by combining these subjects or by separate courses.” Tenn. Admin. Rules R0520-01-03-.05

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