The National Archives at Seattle

Washington State: Classroom Based Assessment(CBA)

Links to Primary Documents at the National Archives and Records Administration

8th Grade

Checks and Balances (Civics)

Student assignment:

In a persuasive paper or presentation, you will:

  1. select an event and explain how the branches of the state or federal government exercised constitutional powers during this event,
  2. explain possible checks available to the branches of government during this event, and
  3. analyze whether the system of checks and balances was effective in this example.

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 Checks and Balances

Examples of Supreme Court Cases Demonstrating the Process of Judicial Review and the Way that Decisions can Change Over Time

Other Examples of Checks and Balances

Associated Washington State Standards {EALR}

  • Civics 2.1.2b - Describe the structure of state and federal government including the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; federal, state, and local levels; and political parties.
  • Civics 2.3.2a - Describe the purposes of government and how its powers are acquired, used and justified.
  • Social Studies Critical Thinking Skills 3.1.3d - Analyze and evaluate the impact of ideas, events, and/or people on groups, environments, economic systems, and/or subsequent events.
  • Social Studies Skills 1.1.2d - Recognize relevant facts and ideas in social studies documents: evaluate bias of sources/authors; classify information as fact/opinion.


EALR Scoring
(*for additional levels, see OSPI Scoring Rubric)
Civics 2.1.2b *at highest level... Accurately explains how two or more branches of government exercised constitutional powers in this event.
Civics 2.3.2a *at highest level... Accurately explains the checks (or possible checks) in regard to this event with two or more specific examples.
Social Studies Critical Thinking Skills 3.1.3d
Civics 2.1.2b
*at highest level... Presents a clearly stated position/thesis analyzing whether the system of checks and balances worked in this example, with two or more reasons explicitly supported by evidence.
Social Studies Skills 1.1.2d *at highest level... Annotated bibliography includes a variety of resources from multiple perspectives. Annotations discuss reliability and credibility and show validity through comparison of resources.

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