July 22, 2009
Montpelier. Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has returned from the National Civics Summit in Minneapolis where she addressed national leaders in civics education and secretaries of state from around the country. Markowitz released a report titled “The Impact of Civics Education on the Attitudes, Behaviors and Disposition of Youth.” The report analyzes the effect of mock election programs on young people’s attitudes about government, politics and their own ability to be engaged and active citizens.
Markowitz said, “The report shows that the newest generation of Vermont adults will be more active and engaged than the ones before it. It also affirms the value of civic education programs and, in particular, mock election programs that teach kids the importance of voting.”
In 2007 the Secretary of State’s Office undertook a study of Vermont students to assess the impact of the Vermont Votes for Kids mock election program on civic attitudes, behaviors and dispositions. With the assistance of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the entire senior class of 2007 was surveyed. Students answered questions about their participation in mock election programs during their school career and how they intend to participate in the democratic process in the future. Students who were exposed to mock election programs were significantly more likely to say they are better informed about politics, understand the issues facing our country, and will vote in the future. Students who accompanied a parent to the polling place scored even higher, confirming the belief that parental involvement is a key factor in shaping civic attitudes.
“These findings demonstrate the value of investing in civics education programs like Vermont Votes for Kids,” said Markowitz. “When we teach young people the mechanics and value of voting, and provide them opportunities to develop and practice the skills necessary to be engaged citizens, we see results.”
Markowitz continued, “It is our hope that the findings of the VSAC survey and this report will encourage educators, government officials, and opinion leaders to see the importance of civics education so that in future years every Vermont student is given an opportunity to participate in a civics education and mock election program.”
A copy of the report is available by calling 802-828-2148 or by visiting the Secretary of State’s website at www.sec.state.vt.us/Mock_Election_Report.pdf.
The Impact of Civics Education on the Attitudes, Behaviors and Disposition of Youth
Key Facts and Findings
Vermont’s Mock Election Program.
• Vermont’s first statewide mock election program was developed in 1999 by the Secretary of State’s Office. The program is currently called Vermont Votes for Kids.
• Vermont’s mock election programs are voluntary. Schools can choose to participate but are not required to do so.
• Mock election programs are offered every two years around the time of the general election and include classroom activities, curricular materials and a mock election that is held on or before Election Day.
• The VSAC survey showed that 72 percent of the seniors remembered participating in at least one mock election over the course of their school careers.
Correlation Between Participation in a Mock Election Program and Civic Skills, Knowledge and Disposition.
A. The key finding of the VSAC survey is that there is a strong correlation between students’ participation in a mock election program and their positive feelings about their civic skills, knowledge and dispositions.
• Students who participated in more than one mock election were 68 percent more likely than students who did not participate in a mock election to agree with the statement “when political issues are discussed I have something to say.”
• These students were also 84 percent more likely than non-participants to agree with the statement “I am better informed about politics than most students.”
• Students who participated in multiple mock elections were 62 percent more likely than non-participants to agree with the statement “my education has helped me to understand the political issues facing the country.”
B. Students who participated in mock election programs reported greater civic knowledge and skills than their counterparts who did not experience a mock election program.
• Students who participated in mock elections were 78 percent more likely to say that they had learned how to research candidates for political office than those who had not participated in a mock election program.
• Students who participated in mock elections were 65 percent more likely to say that they had learned how to examine social problems than those who had not participated in a mock election program.
• Students who participated in mock elections were 59 percent more likely to agree with the statement “I learned how our elections work” than those who did not participate in a mock election program.
C. Students who experienced more than one mock election reported a better understanding of how to solve problems in their communities than their non-participating counterparts.
• These students were 55 percent more likely to report that they had learned ways of addressing community problems than students who had never experience a mock election.
• These students were 77 percent more likely to say that they had learned how political action groups can solve problems than students who had never experience a mock election.
• These students were 61 percent more likely than non-participants to agree that they had learned about individuals’ responsibility to community.
D. Students who experienced more than one mock election reported at a higher rate than students who did not participate in a mock election that they would vote in a state or presidential election.
• The vast majority of students reported that they would vote in the presidential election. However, of those students who participated in at least one mock election, 96 percent reported that they planned to vote for president, while only 78 percent of those students who did not participate in a mock election reported that they would do so.
• Seventy percent of the kids who did not participate in a mock election reported that they planned to vote in a state election, while more than 90 percent of those who participated in at least one mock election reported that they would do so.
Source: Secretary of State
Last Updated at: July 22, 2009 15:12:58