Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, each New Jersey board of education shall provide a course of study in civics, which shall be taken by all students in an appropriate middle school grade, the New Jersey Department of Education reminded stakeholders in an advisory.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed P.L. 2021, c.185 into law July 23, 2021, which states that the course must address the values and principles underlying the American system of constitutional democracy; the function and limitations of government; and the role of a citizen in a democratic society. The board shall ensure that the course of study includes a minimum of two quarters of instruction, or the equivalent.

The NJDOE has interpreted the implementation of this course of study in civics as the following:

  • Middle school is defined as sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
  • The instruction does not need to be scheduled as standalone civics classes, but the civics content must be addressed within the social studies scheduled instructional classes.
  • Scheduling configuration that provides at least two consecutive quarters (or one semester, if equivalent in a system of four quarters/academic year) of civics instruction across the social studies curriculum in grades 6 through 8.

Examples of scheduling configurations can include, but is not limited to:

  • Any two consecutive quarters or one semester, if equivalent in a system of four quarters/academic year in any grade 6 through 8.
  • Consecutive quarters may also mean the fourth quarter of one grade and the first quarter of the next grade.

The NJDOE will evaluate the implementation of Chapter 185 beginning in the 2022-2023 New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum monitoring. Chapter 185 requirements will be evaluated via Instruction and Program Indicator 12, which assesses the alignment of a district’s social studies curriculum to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.

The NJDOE can accept any scheduling configuration that provides at least two consecutive quarters (or one semester, if equivalent in a system of four quarters/academic year) of civics instruction across the social studies curriculum in grades 6-8. The instruction does not need to be in standalone civics classes.

Specifically, to evaluate a district’s compliance with Chapter 185, the NJDOE will review the district’s curriculum scope and sequence for inclusion of civics instruction. If the curriculum documents do not make explicit that the district provides two consecutive quarters or equivalent of instruction in grades 6-8, county office staff will interview the relevant school district personnel for details on the mandated inclusion of civics instruction in the social studies curriculum.

For additional information about the implementation of middle school civics please reach out to your County Office of Education. School districts can also email standards@doe.nj.gov.

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