Editorial Introduction: The Role of Assessment in Educating Democratic Citizens
As the articles for this, the fifth issue of our journal, began to take final form, we realized that we had inadvertently compiled a “thematic section” on issues of evaluation and assessment. The fact that such a grouping of articles came together speaks to the salience of this matter for the field of practice and scholarship known as democratic citizenship education (DCE). Now more than ever, we have vital debates in the field about how best to assess programs and practices for educating democratic citizens. After all, our field presents some of the most notoriously difficult challenges of assessment, especially as we move from a legacy of instruction in bodies of standardized knowledge toward the formation of dispositions, competencies, and values. Assessment of such formation must be contextually sensitive and methodologically complex. It is one thing to measure mathematical knowledge or competence in a 6th grade student. But how do we measure or assess the achievement of citizenship competencies? More broadly still, what do our assessment practices themselves say about the relationship between democracy, knowledge, and education policymaking?
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