The National Archives at Seattle

Washington State: Classroom Based Assessment(CBA)

Links to Primary Documents at the National Archives and Records Administration

10th-11th Grade

Constitutional Issues (Civics)

Student assignment:

In a persuasive paper or presentation, you will:

  1. Select an issue and explain how the issue connects with democratic ideals and/or constitutional principles.
  2. Evaluate other points of view on this issue.
  3. Explain how court cases and/or government policies affect the interpretation of rights involved with this issue using specific references.
  4. Develop a position on the issue that analyzes how individual rights and the common good can be balanced in relation to the issue.
  5. Provide accurate reasons to support your position.

The persuasive paper may take any of a variety of forms, e.g., essay, letter, journal entry, newspaper article.

Primary source documents from "Our Documents, 100 Milestone Source Documents from the National Archives and Records Administration," relating to this Classroom Based Assessment [CBA]:

Important notes for using this section:

  • Following each sub-topic is a list representing specific documents that are believed to best illustrate a topic. Each document is linked to an interactive digital copy of the record itself, complete with description, background information and teaching suggestions, from the "Our Documents" web site The transcribed copy is for your convenience and for students having difficulty reading handwriting. All pages can be easily downloaded and/or printed. Just click on the document title and it will take you to the specific "Our Documents" page.

Sample Topics and Associated Primary Sources:

Development of the United States Constitution

The US Constitution

(Some) Amendments to the US Constitution

The Federalist / Anti-Federalist Movement

Struggle Over the Structure of Government

Regulation of Trade

Individual Rights


Associated Washington State Standards {EALR}

  • Civics 1.1.2b: Explain specific rights guaranteed by the Constitution and how these rights are related to responsibilities.
  • Civics 4.1.2a: Explain how responsibility to the common good might conflict with the exercise of individual rights.
  • Civics 1.2.2a: Explain key democratic ideals of the U.S. government and discuss their application in specific situations.
  • Social Studies Inquiry and Information Skills 3.1.3a: Identify central issue; formulate appropriate questions; identify multiple perspectives; compare and contrast; validate date using multiple sources; determine relevant information; paraphrase problem.


EALR Scoring
(*for additional levels, see OSPI Scoring Rubric)
Civics 1.1.2b *at highest level... Accurately makes two (or more) references to the Constitution and explains their relationship to the position of groups involved with this issue.
Civics 4.1.2a *at highest level... States a reasonable position on the issue that attempts to balance individual rights and the common good.
Civics 1.2.2a *at highest level... Clearly and accurately explains how issue connects with two (or more) explicitly stated democratic ideals and/or constitutional principles.
Social Studies Critical Thinking Skills 3.1.3a *at highest level... Makes explicit references within the text to four sources that provide relevant information and/or support for the position on the issue.

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