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Civics

Standard 15.Understands how the United States Constitution grants and distributes power and responsibilities to national and state government and how it seeks to prevent the abuse of power
  Level Pre-K (Grade Pre-K)
   1. Not appropriate for this level
  Level I (Grade K-2)
   1. Not appropriate for this level
  Level II (Grade 3-5)
   1. Understands that the Constitution is a written document which states that the fundamental purposes of American government are to protect individual rights and promote the common good
   2. Knows that the Constitution describes how the government is organized, defines and limits the powers of government, and is the highest law in the land
   3. Knows that the government was created by people who had the following beliefs: the government is established by and for the people, the people have the right to choose their representatives, and the people have the right to change their government and the Constitution
   4. Knows that Congress passes laws to protect individual rights (e.g., laws protecting freedom of religion and expression, and preventing unfair discrimination) and promote the common good (e.g., laws providing for clean air, national parks, and the defense of the nation)
   5. Knows that the executive branch carries out and enforces laws to protect individual rights (e.g., voting rights, equal opportunities to attain an education) and promote the common good (e.g., enforcement of pure food and drug laws, enforcement of clean air laws)
   6. Knows that the judicial branch, headed by the Supreme Court, makes decisions concerning the law that aim to protect individual rights (e.g., the right to a fair trial, to vote, to practice one's religious beliefs) and promote the common good (e.g., upholding laws that protect the rights of all people to equal opportunity)
  Level III (Grade 6-8)
   1. Understands how the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution, "We the People...," embodies the principle of the people as the ultimate source of sovereignty
   2. Understands how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches share power and responsibilities (e.g., each branch has varying degrees of legislative, executive, and judicial powers and responsibilities)
   3. Understands how the legislative branch can check the powers of the executive and judicial branches by establishing committees to oversee the executive branch's activities; impeaching the president, other members of the executive branch, and federal judges; overriding presidential vetoes; disapproving presidential appointments; and proposing amendments to the Constitution
   4. Understands how the executive branch can check the powers of the legislative and judicial branches by vetoing laws passed by Congress and nominating members of the federal judiciary
   5. Understands how the judicial branch can check the powers of the executive and legislative branches by overruling decisions made by lower courts and ruling on the constitutionality of laws made by Congress and the actions of the executive branch
   6. Knows the major parts of the federal system including the national government, state governments, and other governmental units (e.g., District of Columbia, American tribal governments, Virgin Islands)
   7. Knows which powers are primarily exercised by the state governments (e.g., education, law enforcement, roads), which powers are prohibited to state governments (e.g., coining money, conducting foreign relations, interfering with interstate commerce), and which powers are shared by state and national governments (e.g., power to tax, borrow money, regulate voting)
   8. Understands how the distribution and sharing of power between the national and state governments increases opportunities for citizens to participate and hold their governments accountable
  Level IV (Grade 9-12)
   1. Understands how the overall design and specific features of the Constitution prevent the abuse of power by aggregating power at the national, state, and local levels to allow government to be responsive; dispersing power among different levels of government to protect individual rights, promote the common good, and encourage citizen participation; and using a system of checks and balances (e.g., separated institutions with shared powers, provisions for veto and impeachment, federalism, judicial review, the Bill of Rights)
   2. Knows why the framers adopted a federal system in which power and responsibility are divided and shared between a national government and state governments
   3. Understands ways in which federalism is designed to protect individual rights to life, liberty, and property and how it has at times made it possible for states to deny the rights of certain groups, (e.g. states' rights and slavery, denial of suffrage to women and minority groups)
   4. Understands both the historical and contemporary roles of national and state governments in the federal system and the importance of the Tenth Amendment
   5. Understands the purposes, organization, and functions of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and the independent regulatory agencies (e.g., agencies such as the Federal Reserve, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Communications Commission)
   6. Understands the extent to which each branch of the government reflects the people's sovereignty (e.g., Congress legislates on behalf of the people, the president represents the nation as a whole, the Supreme Court interprets the Constitution on behalf of the people)
   7. Understands how specific features and the overall design of the Constitution results in tensions among the three branches (e.g., the power of the purse, the power of impeachment, advice and consent, veto power, judicial review), and comprehends the argument that the tensions resulting from separation of powers, checks and balances, and judicial review tend to slow down the process of making and enforcing laws, thus insuring better outcomes
   8. Knows current issues concerning representation (e.g., term limitations, legislative districting, geographical and group representation)
   9. Understands how and why beliefs about the purposes and functions of the national government have changed over time