USCHS “We the People” Constitution Tour an important tool while U.S. History and Civics scores continue to decline

A shocking report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress recently revealed that only 13% of students demonstrate proficiency in history, while a mere 22% exhibit proficiency in civics. Education consistently ranks as a top priority for communities across the nation, yet this report represents a decline over the past few years that challenges the future of full participation in our governmental decision-making. In light of these disappointing statistics, our education programs take on even greater importance.

In service of our mission to “foster an informed patriotism,” the Society coordinates an open-access civics education digital resource hub and manages a renowned civics education field trip program for D.C. public school students. By providing students with immersive and engaging experiences, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society aims to bridge the knowledge gap and empower students with a deeper understanding of our nation’s history and civic principles.

13% of our nation’s 8th graders are proficient in history

22% of our nation’s 8th graders are proficient in civics

One of the ways USCHS works to empower students is by managing our “We the People” Civics Education Resource Hub. This amazing resource provides educators with free access to curated civics and history teaching materials, including our innovative Teaching the Constitution Through Theater emerging work. The Hub is especially beneficial for new teachers to utilize as it comes equipped with easily digestible lesson plans that meet state and national standards.

Additionally, we host the Three Branches Institute, a 3-day virtual professional development workshop, which supports and inspires teachers from across the country. This workshop provides rich historical stories, connections, and educational resources about the three branches of government for teachers to take back to their classrooms, leading to improved educational outcomes.

Since 2005, our We the People Constitution Program has engaged thousands of students with an exploration of how the U.S. Constitution is alive in Washington, D.C. This high-impact program offers free field trips and comprehensive curriculum materials on the Constitution to D.C. Public and Charter middle school students. After more than two long years since the Capitol closed its doors to the public, we are excited to resume our in-person We the People Constitution Tours™. 

Thanks to our supporters, our “We the People” Constitution Tour continues to be a proven success, leaving a lasting impact on D.C. eighth-grade students. In the previous tour season–from October 2022 to March 2023–we had the privilege of serving an impressive 1,331 D.C. students, accompanied by 220 teachers, resulting in a total of 1,551 program participants. The number of program participants exceeded the program’s previous average of 1,400 participants over the 16 years before the pandemic shutdown.

Here's how USCHS empowers D.C. students:

  • Leadership Spark: Students interested in running for student government jumped from 17% to 46% after the WTP tour.
  • Future Public Servants: The WTP tour inspired 55% of students to consider pursuing public office, up from 42%.
  • Active Citizenry: Student commitment to voting at 18 increased from 55% to an impressive 67%.
  • Teacher Testimony: 86% of teachers believe the WTP tour encourages student engagement in public service.
  • Improved Accessibility: Our We the People Hub offers classroom activities, assignments, and materials for individual study and enrichment.

percentage of students who say they will or might run for student government

Before the tour
After the tour
Students 46%

percentage of students who said they will or might run for public office

Before the tour
Students 42%
After the Tour
Students 55%

percentage of students who said they will vote upon turning 18

Before the tour
Students 55%
After the tour
Students 67%

Our program’s success demonstrates how necessary it is that we continue to educate our youth, especially given the concerning state of civics and history proficiency among our nation’s 8th graders.

While we eagerly approach the upcoming school year this fall, our We the People program faces urgent funding needs due to the increased costs of buses, tour guides, student lunches, and essential educational materials. Our primary focus is to ensure that every student receives the education they deserve, free of charge. Together, we can overcome these challenges head-on and work towards cultivating a generation of well-informed and active citizens.

Support the Society

Supporting our public history and civics education programs has never been easier. Whether you become a Member of the Society or make a tax-deductible donation, your contribution will have a lasting impact. Explore cost-effective ways to maximize your support for our organization now!