Mapping Civic Measurement: One Year Later

Anna Gallos , Program Associate for Project Administration

February 21, 2024

“How do we know if we are making progress as a democracy?”  

That is a big question, and with countless—and often disparate—organizations and individuals working to improve our democracy, it can be challenging to understand what—if any—collective impact these efforts have. At Citizens & Scholars, we believe civic measurement can help.

Released in February 2023, our Mapping Civic Measurement report sought to provide a landscape analysis of all the different ways people are measuring civic readiness (an individual’s preparation to be an effective citizen) and civic opportunities (systems, platforms, programs, laws and processes for individuals and groups to practice and build civic readiness) to answer that big question.

When we began our work, we did so with the understanding that the emerging civic learning field is even more expansive than many realize. So we sought a broad range of perspectives and expertise and collected as many civic measurement tools (discrete methods for capturing quantitative or qualitative data) as we could to make sense of the current landscape. This led us to create “maps” to visually illustrate the many different aspects of civic readiness and opportunities and how they’re being measured.

What we found

  • Civic readiness is being measured much more than civic opportunities.
  • Notable gaps exist among people doing the measurement work as well as the kinds of tools available.
  • Voting dominates civic learning measurement.
  • There are varying definitions of what good citizenship means, all of which need examining as our world is changing.

On the anniversary of the report’s release, I’m excited to share an update on how the maps are being received and implemented in the field and our ongoing efforts to advance this work.

The Civic Readiness Map shows efforts to measure the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions of individuals. The Civic Opportunities Map portrays the ways that institutions and organizations allow citizens to build and use their civic skills and knowledge.

Taking the maps on the road

Following the official launch event in February 2023, we embarked on a series of “roadshow”  presentations. Our team shared the report and maps with nearly 600 individuals throughout the year, thanks to our partners at CivXNow, Listen First, FixUs, Jack Miller Center, the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC), iCivics/Civic Learning Week, the Forum on World Education and the EAD Research Taskforce. Most recently, I helped design an interactive workshop for the NCoC’s Annual Conference.

Because of these opportunities and conversations that have followed, we’ve heard thoughtful feedback about the report. Many have shared appreciation for the report’s “sense-making” of complex concepts and measures in our emerging field and the utility of a conceptual framework for civic measurement. And we’ve heard that the comprehensive tools list was an important contribution to the field.

We’ve also received a lot questions which typically fall into one of the three buckets:

  • Friendly critiques regarding opportunities to enhance the report. (Will we update our literature review or amend our tools list to incorporate additional tools or consider building an easily searchable database?)
  • A desire to better understand how to use the maps. (How can a practitioner, funder, or researcher use the maps to inform or enhance their own work?)
  • Asking, “So, now what?” (What does Citizens & Scholars plan to do in this space moving forward?)

This provided valuable insight into how we can enhance our measurement work and helped us to determine next steps.

How are the maps being used?

We are thrilled that the maps are gaining momentum and are already being utilized by our colleagues and others.

The working group, consisting of over 30 senior leaders and faculty members across 12 universities, is using the maps to guide their decision about which specific areas of civic readiness and opportunities they want to assess and measure on their campuses.

Our program team is using the maps to identify components of curriculum and inform their program evaluation.

  • Secondary school administrators and faculty

Citizens & Scholars is working with multiple secondary schools seeking to enhance civic readiness on their campuses.

Are YOU using the maps?

As Citizens & Scholars continues to explore how the maps can be used, we want to hear if and how you are using them in your own work. Fill out this form to share!

What’s next

As Mapping Civic Measurement concluded with a call to action and implementation roadmap, we’re conducting additional research and working with partners to expand the report’s impact.

  • With ETS and a team of external advisors, we’re taking a closer look at the tools listed in the report. The goal is to provide a more detailed inventory of the tools and catalog existing validity evidence, where available.
  • With the National Civic League, we plan to build a template for local civic measurement. This project will aim to support local communities’ assessments of their capacity to support civic readiness and opportunities.
  • Citizens & Scholars is conducting a research project to identify a working definition of “citizenship” that speaks to a broad range of individuals while also taking into account today’s context and shifting landscape about what “citizenship” entails.

We look forward to sharing the findings from these projects in summer 2024, so stay tuned!

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