Evaluating High School Students' Constitutional and Civic Literacy: A Case Study of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project

Maryam Ahranjani, Caleb Medearis, and Jeff Shook, Evaluating High School Students' Constitutional and Civic Literacy: A Case Study of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, 90 Denv. U. L. Rev. 917 (2013).

19 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2014

See all articles by Maryam Ahranjani

Maryam Ahranjani

University of New Mexico - School of Law

Caleb Medearis

American University - Washington College of Law

Jeffrey J. Shook

University of Pittsburgh - School of Social Work

Date Written: September 22, 2013

Abstract

The United States maintains a reputation as a vibrant, participatory democracy. Yet, paradoxically, formal civics education has essentially disappeared from America’s public high schools, particularly urban public schools serving low-income and minority students. The Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, which is offered at almost zero cost to public schools and districts, developed as a response to the need for civics education in high schools and as a way to train future lawyers in public speaking, leadership, and counseling. In an effort to support the growth of the Marshall-Brennan Project all over the country, the authors of this piece came together to study the Marshall-Brennan Project’s efficacy in Washington, DC during the 2010-2011 academic year. This Essay is based on a comprehensive data set of students in fifteen classes in twelve Washington, DC public and public charter schools during the 2010-2011 academic year. Students were asked substantive questions related to the curriculum, as well as their likelihood of participating in civic activities such as voting and jury service. The results indicate increased constitutional knowledge and higher likelihood of civic participation, although there is room for improvement. The Essay ends with two conclusions. First, the authors seek to inspire a subsequent, larger study of the efficacy of the Marshall-Brennan model of training law students to teach high school students about the Constitution. Second, until a larger study is conducted, the authors draw from the 2010-2011 data to suggest changes to the current model, including a greater focus on drawing connections between civic knowledge and civic action.

Suggested Citation

Ahranjani, Maryam and Medearis, Caleb and Shook, Jeffrey J., Evaluating High School Students' Constitutional and Civic Literacy: A Case Study of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project (September 22, 2013). Maryam Ahranjani, Caleb Medearis, and Jeff Shook, Evaluating High School Students' Constitutional and Civic Literacy: A Case Study of the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, 90 Denv. U. L. Rev. 917 (2013)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2399080

Maryam Ahranjani (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico - School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

Caleb Medearis

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

Jeffrey J. Shook

University of Pittsburgh - School of Social Work ( email )

135 N Bellefield Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
89
Abstract Views
751
Rank
531,112
PlumX Metrics