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State Seal of Civic Engagement

Information and resources regarding the State Seal of Civic Engagement.

On September 10, 2020, the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted criteria and guidance to award a State Seal of Civic Engagement (SSCE) to California students who demonstrate excellence in civics education and participation, and an understanding of the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the democratic system of government. By adopting these criteria, California joined a small but growing number of states that formally recognize and promote student civic engagement with seals to affix to student transcripts, diplomas, or certificates of completion.

Additional resources will be posted to this web page as they become available.

Overview and Resources

In October 2017, then-Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 24 External link opens in new window or tab. into law. The law requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI), on or before January 1, 2020, to recommend to the SBE criteria for awarding a SSCE to pupils who have demonstrated excellence in civics education and participation and an understanding of the United States Constitution, the California Constitution, and the democratic system of government. The law also requires the SSPI to consider, among other criteria, the successful completion of history, government, and civics courses, including courses that incorporate character education and voluntary participation in community service or extracurricular activities.

A hallmark of the SSCE is its accessibility to all students, regardless of their backgrounds, communities, and experiences. This includes taking into consideration how local education agencies (LEAs) can support California’s most underserved students in earning the seal in ways that may not always mirror traditional student paths to civic engagement and learning. As civic engagement may look different from community to community, the CDE encourages LEAs to work with local and statewide organizations to develop local criteria and to design and implement impactful civic engagement programs and pathways that reflect community interests, needs, and resources.

The CDE is deeply thankful to the following organizational partners that helped to develop the SSCE criteria. These organizations are also gathering resources to support local implementation efforts:

Resources to Support Student Civic Engagement

Guidance and resources for student civic engagement are available on the CDE Resources to Support Student Civic Engagement web page.

State Seal of Civic Engagement Criteria

The five criteria presented below are meant to provide local educational agencies (LEAs) with a framework for making determinations of student qualifications required to earn the SSCE, based on their own local contexts. The criteria are written to ensure that no student is excluded from an opportunity to earn the SSCE based on academic ability, alternative school settings, or unique or unconventional expressions of civic engagement.

The student must:

  1. Be engaged in academic work in a productive way;
  2. Demonstrate a competent understanding of United States 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.

State Seal of Civic Engagement Implementation Guidance

Pursuant to Education Code sections 51470–51474 External link opens in new window or tab., the California Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for developing and publishing criteria for students to earn the SSCE, and also for overseeing the process for developing and disseminating the insignia to LEAs. In addition to ongoing updates to its web pages, the CDE will provide additional guidance to LEAs through technical assistance webinars. These will include an overview of the SSCE, implementation supports, and guidance for ordering the insignia. When ordering insignias, districts will self-certify that students earned the SSCE based on locally-created criteria.

The SSCE Implementation Guidance for each criterion offers ideas and considerations to structure local requirements to award the SSCE, using the criteria set forward by the CDE as a foundation. Each LEA should develop criteria considering its own local context to ensure maximum accessibility for all students, at all grade levels, including those in alternative school settings. Local governing boards are encouraged to approve or adopt their own policies regarding implementation of the SSCE criteria.

State Seal of Civic Engagement Criteria Development

To learn about the development of the criteria, please visit the SSCE Criteria Development web page.

Per the State Board of Education adoption of the criteria, the CDE is currently exploring ways to integrate the SSCE into the College and Career Indicator of the California School Dashboard. Information regarding these developments will be shared on this web page as it becomes available.

Procedures and Forms for Awarding the State Seal of Civic Engagement

Additional technical assistance and knowledge-building resources to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in ordering SSCE insignias will be posted under this tab as they become available.

Overview of the SSCE (PPTX)
This presentation provides a general overview of the SSCE program, including historical information and next steps for LEAs.

Questions:   Educator Excellence and Equity Division | SSCE@cde.ca.gov | 916-323-6440
Last Reviewed: Monday, November 23, 2020