Answers to Your Questions About the New Course Requirement

Since the new high school civics course requirement was signed into law by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner last August, we have been inundated with questions about both its general and specific parameters. While school and district accountability lies in the hands of the Illinois State Board of Education and its regional offices, we have attempted to answer these questions to the best of our abilities.

Our frequently-asked questions section of the IllinoisCivics website categorizes questions by course overview, funding, course implementation, and professional development and resources. In total, 42 questions are addressed, and we encourage you to comb through each of them and inform us where we have fallen short or failed to anticipate a question entirely.

A couple of questions have surfaced repeatedly and are worthy of further examination here:

Do existing American government courses satisfy the civics course requirement?
Yes, with two caveats: First, qualifying government courses must address the content specified in the law, including instruction on government institutions, current and controversial issues discussions, service-learning, and simulations of democratic processes. Second, this course must be offered in addition to the existing one-credit United States History and/or Government requirement.

What additional guidance is available to schools as they develop new civics courses or modify existing courses? 
Beyond a statewide system of professional development opportunities starting this summer, teachers, schools, and districts are encouraged to explore a comprehensive list of state and national organizations positioned to support the new civics course requirement. Also, new Illinois Social Science Standards were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education in June 2015 and will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year. The standards contain a K-12 civics strand and will be helpful in providing guidance for course content and curriculum.

Once more, please let us know what remaining questions you may have about the new course requirement and our plans to support its implementation throughout Illinois.

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