Civic Literacy

Democracies require citizens who know the nature and history of their institutions, who value these institutions, and wish for them to survive. Our education system should prepare each generation of citizens to participate in this democratic republic and fully understand its struggles and glories.

America’s Civic Knowledge Deficit is Growing

Survey research shows that most Americans pay little attention to current events and lack basic civic knowledge. This is true even among those with college degrees. In a democratic republic, it is vital that citizens fully comprehend their system of government and recognize how they may engage with it.

The way forward is clear. A renewal of civic education can reverse America’s civic literacy crisis by ensuring that students gain basic knowledge of our history and government. It is urgent that colleges and universities, lawmakers, students, and parents work together to confront the crisis and correct course.

In this spirit, ACTA is celebrating the 250th birthday of our country in 2026 by redoubling its efforts to push for robust civics education nationwide. Between now and July 4, 2026, ACTA will be introducing a series of national initiatives designed to promote civics as a cornerstone of the core curriculum in higher education.

Losing America’s Memory 2.0

In June 2024, ACTA surveyed over 3,000 college and university students on basic knowledge of American history and government. We found that significant numbers of college students graduate without even a rudimentary grasp of America’s history and political system. This new survey builds upon ACTA’s decades-long analysis of civic literacy trends, including our groundbreaking original report, Losing America’s Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century.

View Survey Results



of students failed to identify the term lengths of members of Congress.



of students incorrectly identified Thomas Jefferson over James Madison as the “Father of the Constitution.”



of students managed to correctly identified John Roberts as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.



The Honorable Janice Rogers Brown, Retired U.S. Circuit Judge and ACTA Board Member

Karrin Taylor Robson, Former Arizona Board of Regents Member and ACTA Board Member

Jenna Robinson, President of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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