Ball State University has been awarded a three-year, $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help enhance civics education in Muncie Community Schools. The university says the funding comes at a critical time as a new state law requiring a civics course in middle schools is set to be implemented in the 2023-2024 school year.
Ball State will develop the project to improve instruction, student learning, and professional development in civics that will integrate American history, geography, government, and media literacy.
The funding is through the federal DOE’s Civic Renewal through Education Agency.
“Our CREATE team is driven to enhance educators’ capacity to foster civic learning in students,” said Anand Marri, dean of Ball State University’s Teachers College. “CREATE builds on both time-tested and cutting-edge approaches to civic learning, integrating, and adapting multiple evidence-based strategies, and tracking and assessing the resultant outcomes to produce a replicable, scalable model for building the civic capacity of communities through their K-12 schools.”
The funding coincides with a new Indiana law that requires every middle school student in the state to take a semester-long civics course. The law, signed by Governor Eric Holcomb in 2021, goes into effect in 2023.
In June, the Indiana Department of Education approved the new K-12 Indiana Academic Standards, which includes the new civics course.
The curriculum intends to help students better understand how government and to increase their engagement in local, state and national issues.
Ball State says the newly funded program will allow it to help prepare Muncie teachers to teach such a course.
“Our aim is to equip schools to foster civic agency in their students,” said Marri. “Students should have the capacity to work across differences for shared purposes, in line with their considered values, yet in pursuit of a commonwealth reflecting as many divergent perspectives and lifeways as basic justice, general health, and universal dignity can accommodate.”
In June, the Purdue University Board of Trustees voted to add a civics literacy graduation requirement for undergraduates, beginning with incoming students this fall.