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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-76
September 10, 2020
Contact: Janet Weeks
Phone: 916-319-0818

California State Board of Education Approves State Seal of Civic Engagement Award

Honor is hoped to encourage students to become active participants in democracy

SACRAMENTO—The California State Board of Education today approved criteria for California students to earn a new Seal of Civic Engagement, an incentive aimed at encouraging active and ongoing citizenship.

To earn the seal, students must demonstrate excellence in civic learning, participation in civics-related projects, contributions to their community, and an understanding of the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the American democratic system. Students may earn the seal on a transcript, diploma, or Certificate of Completion. California history and social science teachers worked in partnership with the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop the initial requirements.

“The future of our democracy depends on a knowledgeable and actively engaged citizenry,” said State Board President Linda Darling-Hammond. “With this new seal, we hope to prepare all students with an empathetic concern for others, a deep understanding of democracy, and the civic engagement skills needed to contribute to the welfare of their local communities, the state, and the country.”

“We know that when young people activate their voices, they can be among the strongest change agents in our communities,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. “Education is the cornerstone of realizing our democratic ideals, and this new seal puts additional tools in students’ hands as they work to shape the future.”

Since then-Governor Brown signed AB 24 into law in October 2017, the CDE has worked with teachers, a variety of stakeholder groups, and the public to draft criteria and guidance for the seal.

Under direction of the State Board, the Department worked to ensure that the criteria approved today are accessible to all students, support rigorous and continuous civic engagement, promote diversity and inclusion, engage young students, reflect an interdisciplinary approach, and recognize civil disobedience as a form of civic engagement.

The criteria are:

  1. Be engaged in academic work in a productive way;
  2. Demonstrate a competent understanding of U.S. and California constitutions; functions and governance of local governments; tribal government structures and organizations; the role of the citizen in a constitutional democracy; and democratic principles, concepts, and processes;
  3. Participate in one or more informed civic engagement project(s) that address real-world problems and require students to identify and inquire into civic needs or problems, consider varied responses, take action, and reflect on efforts;
  4. Demonstrate civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions through self-reflection; and
  5. Exhibit character traits that reflect civic-mindedness and a commitment to positively impact the classroom, school, community, and/or society.
The criteria include extensive guidance to support local educational agencies as they implement the seal in their communities. The CDE also created a Resources to Support Civic Engagement web page.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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