Civic Education Policies: State Profile

Civic Education Policies: State Profile - Minnesota

December 2016

Data are collected using publicly available state statute, administrative code and, in some cases, curriculum and standards frameworks. A profile was sent to each state for review and modification, as needed.

Description Citation/Link
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies High School Graduation Requirements
Are there high school graduation requirement in civics or citizenship education? Students are required to complete 3.5 credits, "encompassing at least United States history, geography, government and citizenship, world history, and economics --OR-- three credits of social studies encompassing at least United States history, geography, government and citizenship, world history and one-half credit of economics taught in a school's social studies, business, or agricultural education department." 

The 89th Minnesota Legislature's H.F. No. 2749, Conference Committee Report, Article 5, Section 3 includes Subdivision 3 titled: "Required knowledge and understanding of civics." This Subdivision states, "Students enrolled in a public school must correctly answer at least 30 of the 50 civics test questions." (line 444.30) Schools or districts determine the logistics for administering the civics test questions and for recording the results. "A district must not prevent a student from graduation or deny a student a high school diploma for failing to correctly answer at least 30 of 50 civics test questions." (line 445.4) This legislation is effective for students enrolling in grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year. The Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, in consultation with civics teachers, annually selects 50 of the 100 questions used by the United States citizenship and immigration services (USCIS Naturalization Test).
Minn. Stat. §120B.024.4,
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Standards and Curriculum Frameworks
State standards include civics or citizenship education The Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for Social Studies (grade-level standards for K-8, course-specific standards for high school) include a strand of standards for Citizenship and Government. The following fours substrands are included in the Citizenship and Government strand: 1. civic skills, 2. civic values and principles of democracy, 3. rights and responsibilities, 4. governmental institutions and political processes, and 5. relationships of the United States to other nations and organizations. Some standards are repeated for multiple grades but the associated benchmarks become increasingly complex.

Sample standards/benchmarks include: understanding that democratic government depends on informed and engaged citizens who exhibit civic skills and values, practice civic discourse, vote and participate in elections, apply inquiry and analysis skills, and take action to solve problems and shape public policy (grades K-12) by: demonstrating civic skills in a classroom that reflect an understanding of civic values (Kindergarten), simulating a historic event to show how civic engagement (voting, civil discourse about controversial issues and civic action) improves and sustains a democratic society, supports the general welfare, and protects the rights of individuals (grade 5), and exhibiting civic skills including participating in civic discussion on issues in the contemporary United States, demonstrating respect for the opinions of people or groups who have different perspectives, and reaching consensus (grade 7).
Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards -
Social Studies (2011)

Minnesota Rules, part 3501.1300-1345
Curriculum frameworks include civics or citizenship education N/A. However, sample curriculum guides tied to the standards are provided by the Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education. Minnesota Center for Social Studies Education
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Inclusion in Assessment and Accountability Systems
State assessments include civics, citizenship education or social studies All high school students must take a basic civics test. The test is based on 50 of 100 questions found in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services exam. The civics exam is a graduation required task, but will not prevent a student from earning a diploma.

M.S.A. § 120B.02
State accountability system includes civics, citizenship education or social studies N/A M.S.A. § 120B.31
Civics, Citizenship or Social Studies Addressed in Other State Statutes or Administrative Code
State statutes (laws) that address civics, citizenship education or social studies The state mandates instruction in several subject areas, including social studies, which includes history, geography and government.

Government and citizenship are required subject areas for statewide accountability in social studies. Additionally, the state commissioner is charged as responsible for specifying rules for implementing "core academic standards in the social studies." When developing and revising standards, the state commissioner is mandated to "consider advice from ... stakeholders" including school constituents, teachers, and the business community.

The "American Heritage Education" is mandated to include grade-level instruction on: "America's founding documents, including documents that contributed to the foundation or maintenance of America's representative form of limited government, the Bill of Rights, our free-market economic system, and patriotism."

Social studies are not included in state-developed assessment, and "the commissioner must not develop statewide assessments for academic standards in social studies."

A career pathways and technical education advisory task force is established to recommend to the legislature how to structurally redesign secondary and postsecondary education to: (1) improve secondary and postsecondary outcomes for students and adult learners: (2) align secondary and postsecondary education programs serving students and adult learners; (3) align secondary and postsecondary education programs and Minnesota's workforce needs; and (4) measure and evaluate the combined efficacy of Minnesota's public K-12 and postsecondary education programs. Advisory task force members, in preparing these recommendations, must at least consider how to: "(8) provide graduates of two-year and four-year postsecondary institutions with the foundational skills needed for civic engagement, ongoing employment, and continuous learning." (2013 Minn. Laws 116)
Minn. Stat. § 120A.22(e)(9), Minn. Stat. § 120B.235, Minn. Stat. § 120B.021, Minn. Stat. § 120B.30
State administrative code addressed civics, citizenship education or social studies N/A

© 2021 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3636 or

Your Education Policy Team