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Civics Requirements

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“Preparation for citizenship is as important as preparation for college and a career, and should take its place as a requirement for receiving a high school diploma.”

(HB 2132, Chapter 223, State of Washington Laws of 2009.)

Social Studies Requirement for the Class of 2016 and Beyond (WAC 180-51-067, WAC 180-51-068)

  • 1 credit US History
  • 1 credit Contemporary World History, Geography and Problems (or an equivalent course)
  • .5 credit Civics
  • .5 credit Social Studies Elective
  • Washington State History and Government
    • May be taught in middle school and meet the graduation requirement without credit; or
    • For high school credit if taught at a high school level

Civics Requirement for the Class of 2016 and Beyond

In 2009 the Washington State Legislature directed that students of Washington receive an education in civics by passing House Bill 2132 (codified in RCW 28A.230.093). The Legislature specified that the content of the civics requirement must include, but not be limited to:

  • Federal, state, and local government organization and procedures;
  • Rights and responsibilities of citizens addressed in the Washington state and United States Constitutions;
  • Current issues addressed at each level of government; and
  • Electoral issues, including elections, ballot measures, initiatives, and referenda.

Can civics be embedded in another social studies course?

Yes—as long as the requirements of civics as specified in RCW 28A.230.093 and Learning Standards for the course are met. Students still must earn a total of 3 social studies credits. 

How will the civics graduation requirement be tracked?

It’s up to districts to track how graduation requirements are met. Some districts may choose to teach civics as a separate course that would show up on the student’s transcript. Or, if civics is embedded, include civics in the title of the course. Districts may use an internal method of tracking graduation requirements such as using a local Student Information System, or the student’s High School and Beyond Plan (see the High School & Beyond Plan FAQ, and Career Guidance Washington).  If a student transfers in high school, the receiving school may need to contact the originating high school for clarification on what graduation requirements have been met (see the Washington State Standardized High School Transcript FAQ).

What are ways for Washington teachers to provide strong civics instruction?

According to Guardian of Democracy: Successor Report to the Civic Mission of Schools, there are six proven practices for enhancing civic education:

  1. Classroom instruction
  2. Discussion of current events and controversial issues
  3. Service learning
  4. Extracurricular activities
  5. School governance
  6. Simulations of democratic processes

Additional Resources

Legislature—Civic Education (
Center for Civic Education (
Washington State Elections—Voter Education (
National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement (
Department of Education Civic Learning and Engagement in Democracy (