The Simulated Congressional Hearing (SCH) is the culminating activity for fifth grade social studies in the Howard County Public School System. Throughout the year, students study four units of instruction: The American Revolution, Building a New Nation, Challenges of a New Nation and We the People. The SCH is an authentic, performance-based assessment where students demonstrate their understanding of the founding of U.S. Constitution and the impact of its creation. While preparing for the SCH, in addition to showing off their content knowledge, students are able to transfer the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills they learned in language arts to this authentic experience.
During the SCH, students assume the role of constitutional experts on topics they have been learning about throughout 5th grade. The students will present prepared oral testimony (a group speech) before a panel of simulated congressional committee members (“judges”). Following the formal presentations, students respond to follow-up questions from the panel. Student groups are evaluated on these criteria: understanding, constitutional application, reasoning, supporting evidence, responsiveness, and participation.
The original format and content of the SCH was developed as a culminating activity by the Center for Civic Education in 1987 as part of the nationall acclaimed We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program. The SCH was introduced to the Howard County Public School system in 2003 with one school and has now grown to 100% implementation across HCPSS elementary schools. Howard County remains a national leader in implementation of the SCH at the elementary level.