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Gateway to American Civics and Government


Based on the landmark findings of the National Research Council’s How People Learn, Robert Marzano’s Classroom Instruction that Works, and other recent research, Gateway to American Civics and Government is especially designed to facilitate student learning. This program helps teachers to unmask student preconceptions, organizes information around key concepts, and takes a metacognitive approach to skills instruction. It eases the assimilation of new learning schemata and provides opportunities for students to reinforce and apply their learning. At the same time, it introduces all of Florida’s revised Benchmarks for Civics and Government in a logical, coherent and comprehensive way. 

Each major concept is presented to students in multiple ways—in an advanced organizer that includes a list of relevant benchmarks, key vocabulary, and an overview summarizing each chapter in one page (known as the Florida “Keys” to Learning). This is followed by an explanation of the same concept in greater detail in the chapter text. Student learning is then reinforced with student activities, known as The Active Citizen, vocabulary activities, a concept map, review cards, and practice test questions identified by Benchmark. Its test questions mirror the released questions on the Florida Department of Education’s Test Items Specification guide. Using these different features, teachers are able to provide differentiated instruction, while students are able to assimilate, apply and reinforce new information for an authentic learning experience.

Each chapter begins with a title page listing the relevant Benchmarks and a word wall (Content Focus Vocabulary in This Chapter) of important names and terms based on the Benchmarks, Benchmark Clarifications, and Content Focus terms (currently from the 2012 Item Specifications guide). This is followed by a one-page overview entitled Florida “Keys” to Learning. The main chapter text is then divided into several easy-to-read sections. Some of these sections contain specially designed cartoons to help students comprehend and master difficult concepts, such as constitutional principles and types of government and economic system. Each major section or group of sections is followed by The Active Citizen, which asks students to conduct various activities to reinforce and enrich their understanding of each Benchmark. Some of these activities ask students to interpret primary source documents, such as speeches by President Ronald Reagan and Reverend Al Sharpton. Other activities require students to role-play or to conduct their own research and to present their findings to their classmates. Finally, each chapter concludes with: (1) a vocabulary activity, such as concept ladders or concept circles, based on the pioneering research of Janet Allen; (2) a concept map; (3) a series of review cards; and (4) practice test questions. 

In the online program, students can highlight text and make their own annotations, which they can keep for the rest of the school year. Teachers can assign student work and end-of-chapter tests. The online version also includes audio files and will automatically score and report students' responses on the end-of-chapter tests. 

This resource has been written from the ground up based on your state standards. In the 2019 review conducted by EdCredible in conformity with HB 807 and Section 1003.4156 of the Florida Statutes, Gateway to American Government was found to be the most highly aligned with the state curriculum (95%) of all the state-approved instructional resources for middle school Civics.

The new edition of the book includes all the new state learning standards: (1) the Classical heritage of our American constitutional republic: ancient Greece, Rome and the Judeo-Christian tradition; (2) religious liberty; (3) the principles underlying America’s “Founding Ideas”; (4) administrative agencies; (5) the Electoral College; (6) the Twelfth Amendment; (7) due process of law; (8) the role of juries; (9) government-imposed limitations on individual rights; (10) the Dred Scott decision; (11) elections and voting at the local, state and national levels; (12) the origins of the Democratic and Republican Parties; (13) individuals monitoring and influencing government; (14) the advantages of the American form and system of government over other forms and systems of government; (15) economic systems: capitalism, socialism and communism; and (16) methods of pursuing the “national interest” in U.S. foreign policy: diplomacy, espionage, humanitarian efforts, peacekeeping operations, sanctions and war.

The primary strengths of our program remain its sharp focus on Florida’s Benchmarks, its logical organization, its engaging text, and its many special features to facilitate student learning. There simply is no better resource for seventh grade Civics or for helping your students improve their scores on the Civics and Government EOC.


  • $189.50 plus 10% shipping for a set of 10 books
  • $9.95 per student for a one-year license to the online program

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): Evidence for Gateway to American Civics and Government

The design of Gateway to American Civics and Government is based on the research-based strategies of How People Learn (National Research Council, 1999), How Students Learn: History in the Classroom (National Research Council, 2005), and Robert Marzano et. al, Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (ASCD, 2001). In addition, a survey conducted by the State of Florida in 2019 found that the previous edition of this book was the most closely aligned to the State's curriculum requirements of all the approved instructional materials.

Each chapter begins with an advance organizer. This begins by reproducing the Florida content standards covered in the chapter. The next part of this advance organizer (Content Focus Vocabulary in This Chapter) introduces new vocabulary. A third part of the advance organizer (Florida “Keys” to Learning) provides an overview of the chapter before the student is exposed to details. Information in the main text is then divided into meaningful sections, with student activities at the end of each major section. At the end of each chapter, there is a concept map to help students tie together ideas. Students thus have repeated exposure to both concepts and key details (see, e.g., Marzano, Classroom Instruction that Works, pp. 132-137). There are also vocabulary exercises at the end of some chapters, based on the research of Janet Allen, Inside Words (Stenhouse, 2007).

Empirical evidence suggests that interventions with earlier editions of Gateway to American Government were highly effective. Performance on the state-wide EOC in Civics can be viewed as a reliable measure of student abilities in reading and logical reasoning, since this test requires students to read and to apply their knowledge and reasoning skills to answer each question. Florida Transformative Education collected data on some of the schools purchasing its books in the first years of the last adoption cycle. The data in the following case studies is based on information available from the Florida Department of Education website correlated with our own sales data.

Case Study: Southern Oaks Middle
In 2015, Southern Oaks Middle School of St. Lucie Public Schools purchased 320 copies of Gateway to American Government – one book for every seventh-grade student. That spring, 77% of their students achieved a passing score of 3 or higher on the Civics EOC. Their mean score of 410 surpassed the Grade 7 mean score for the State of Florida by 7 points and for the St. Lucie Public Schools by 11 points. In 2016, the students at Southern Oaks Middle School raised their passing rate to 81%. Their mean scores surpassed the Grade 7 mean score for the state by 10 points and for the district by 12 points. In 2017, they raised their mean score again to 415 and their passing rate to 82%.

Case Study: Switzerland Point Middle
Switzerland Point Middle School in the St. John’s County School District has purchased one book for every 7th grader since 2014 and achieved very positive results. They ordered 450 copies in August and September 2014, 375 copies in July and August 2015, and 430 copies in June 2016. Their results have been highly successful: spring 2015: 402 students with a mean score of 427, a passing rate of 95%, and 49% with a top score of 5: (on a scale of 1-5); spring 2016: 427 students with a mean score of 429, a passing rate of 97%, and 53% with a top score of 5; spring 2017: 424 students with a mean score of 429, a passing rate of 96%, and 54% with a top score of 5.

Case Study: Aventura City of Excellence
In 2014-2015, Aventura City of Excellence School, a charter school in Miami, purchased 148 copies of Gateway to American Government for their 105 students. That spring, 99% of their students achieved passing scores. The school’s mean score of 435 surpassed the Grade 7 mean score for the State of Florida by 32 points. In 2016, the school’s mean score was 429 with a passing rate of 97%. In 2017, their mean score was 432 with a passing rate of 97%. More than half of their students (55%) received a top score of 5 (on a scale of 1-5).

Case Study: Wellington Landings Middle School
In 2015, Wellington Landings Middle School in the School District of Palm Beach County purchased 300 copies of Gateway to American Government for their students – one copy for each 7th grader. In spring 2015, 84% of their students achieved a passing score of 3 or higher. This was 29% higher than the passing rate for both the district and the state. The school’s mean scores surpassed the Grade 7 mean score for the state by 15 points, and for the district by 14 points. In 2016, the school raised its mean score to 421 and its passing rate to 91%. More than a third of its students (35%) received a top score of 5. In 2017, the school’s 410 students had a mean score of 425 and a passing rate of 93%. Almost half of them (49%) earned a top score of 5.

Case Study: John F. Kennedy Middle
In spring 2014, the students of John F. Kennedy Middle School in the School District of Palm Beach County had a “retrofitted” mean score of 374 and a passing rate of 21% (Grade 3 or above) on the Civics EOC. In September 2014, they purchased one copy of Gateway to American Government for each 7th grade student. In spring 2015, their students’ mean score jumped to 401, and their passing rate to 64% (Grade 3 or above). This was a 300% increase in the school’s passing rate.

Case Study: Hialeah Gardens Middle
The teachers and students at Hialeah Gardens Middle School of the Miami Dade County Public Schools have relied on Gateway to American Government as their main printed resource and saw impressive gains over a 3-year period. Gateway was used alongside free resources from Florida Law-Related Education. Teachers at Hialeah Gardens also participated in special academies offered by their district’s social science department. In 2014, their 603 students had a mean score of 397 and a passing rate of 61%. In 2015, their 573 students had a mean score of 406 and a passing rate of 70%. One fifth of them (21%) received a top score of 5. In 2016, their mean score rose to 413 and their passing rate was 80%, with a quarter of them (26%) receiving a top score of 5. In 2017, their scores slipped only slightly from the prior year but remained strong: 550 students had a mean score of 406 and a passing rate of 72%.

These case studies demonstrate that use of Gateway to American Government had a statistically positive effect on a relevant outcome (Civics EOC scores) in helping students to achieve success.

Summary of the Book

There is no right or wrong way for organizing the many topics in this book, but we take the approach described below. In fact, however, these chapters can be used in almost any order a teacher wishes to take in order to conform to his or her district’s syllabus.

Chapter 1. Our Classical Heritage
(SS.7.C.1.1 & SS.7.C.1.2)
The book begins by examining the roots of our sys­tem of democratic government in England and colonial times. Students learn how English traditions and new ideas in Europe in the 17th and 18th cen­turies led people to develop more democratic forms of government. The English colonies, far from Euro­pean rulers, provided fertile ground for these new ideas to take shape.

Chapter 2. English Rights and Enlightenment Ideas
(SS.7.CG.1.2, SS.7.CG.1.3, SS.7.CG.1.4)
The book/program next examines English traditions and the European Enlightenment and their impact on the colonists who founded the American constitutional republic. Students learn how English traditions and new ideas in Europe in the 17th and 18th cen¬turies led people to develop more democratic forms of government. The English colonies, far from Euro¬pean rulers, provided fertile ground for these new ideas to take shape. Students consider Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, the English Bill of Rights, John Locke’s Social Contract, Montesquieu’s separation of powers, and Thomas Paine’s support for representative self-government. They also consider religious liberty as a protected right and the fundamental principles underlying America’s founding ideas.

Chapter 3. Americans Declare Their Independence
(SS.7.CG.1.5, SS.7.CG.1.6)
In this chapter, students learn about the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence. Students examine British policies after the French and Indian War, the British attempt to tax the colonists (Stamp Act, Townshend Acts and Tea Act), colonial concerns, and British responses to those concerns (Declaratory Act, Quartering Act, Intolerable Acts). Students learn how these disagreements between the American colonists and the British government led to the outbreak of armed conflict, and the colonists’ decision to become independent. Then they analyze the ideas and colonial grievances found in the Declaration.

Chapter 4. The Story of Our Constitution
(SS.7.CG.1.7, SS.7.CG.3.3, SS.7.CG.3.14)
After achieving independence, each colony became a new state. Americans also faced the problem of designing a national sys¬tem of government that would be effective but that would still respect individual rights. Our first national government, created by the Articles of Confederation, proved to be too weak. In this chapter, students learn how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led delegates from 12 states to draft the U.S. Constitution.  They learn what was discussed at the Constitutional Convention, what the delegates agreed upon, how they compromised on the issue of representation in Congress.

Chapter 5. A Quick Tour of the Constitution
(SS.7.CG.1.8, SS.7.CG.1.9, SS.7.CG.1.10, SS.7.CG.3.3, SS.7.CG.3.4)
In this chapter, students are provided with an overview of the basic structure of the Constitution and the branches of our national government. They analyze the Preamble and look at summaries of the other articles. They learn that the authors of the U.S. Constitution introduced several constitutional principles to make sure our national government was strong enough but not oppressive: limited government, the separation of powers, checks and balances, the rule of law, due process of law, individual rights and federalism. The result was the system of government we still have today—with its separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, and its division of power between our national government and the state governments.  Students look at the ratification debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists and how these led the later addition of  the Bill of Rights. Finally they consider the global impact of the U.S. Constitution—how our Constitution has affected other nations around the world.

Chapter 6. Congress: Our Legislative Branch
(SS.7.CG.3.7, SS.7.CG.3.3, SS.7.CG.3.4, SS.7.CG.3.7)
After learning how our national system of government came into being, students explore how it works today. In this chapter, they look at Congress, our national law-making body. What are its “enumerated” and “implied” powers? What is the significance of the “Necessary and Proper” Clause? What are the non-legislative powers of Congress? How many members are in each house of Congress? How are their members selected? How is Congress organized? What is the committee system? What are the steps for passing a new law in Congress?

Chapter 7. The Presidency: Our Executive Branch
(SS.7.CG.2.6, SS.7.CG.2.7, SS.7.CG.3.3, SS.7.CG.3.8, SS.7.CG.3.14, SS.7.CG.4.1)
In this chapter, students look at the Presidency. What are the President’s powers under the Constitution? What different roles does the Presi¬dent play today? Who is qualified to hold the office of President? How is the President of the United States elected?  How does the Electoral College work?  How did the 12th Amendment change the selection of the President? What is the impeachment process? They also consider the role of administrative agencies in the executive branch—how they advise the President, issue regulations, and enforce regulations and laws.

Chapter 8. The Federal Courts: Our Judicial Branch
(SS.7.CG.3.3 & SS.7.CG.3.9)
In this chapter, students consider the judicial branch of our national government—the U.S. Supreme Court and the other federal courts. They learn how Supreme Court Justices are chosen, how they decide what cases to review, and how they go about deciding cases. They also learn about the original and appellate jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court, and how the Court itself established power of “judicial review”—the ability to declare a state or federal law “unconstitutional” if the Court determines it conflicts with the U.S. Constitution. Finally, students learn about the lower federal courts—U.S. District Courts and U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.

Chapter 9. The Rule of Law
(SS.7.CG.1.11, SS.7.CG.2.5, SS.7.CG.3.9, SS.7.CG.3.10)
In this chapter, your students “go to law school.” They learn what laws are, what the rule of law means, and the importance of the due process of law. They consider both sources and types of law, including differences between state and federal laws, civil and criminal laws, statutory and common law, and military, juvenile and natural law. They also look at excerpts from historical codes of law and consider the impact of historical law codes on the legal system of the United States. They look in detail at the steps of both the civil and criminal law process and especially the role of juries in each.  They compare the trial and appellate process and learn about the structure of the courts of the State of Florida: county courts, circuit courts, District Courts of Appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court.

Chapter 10. The Bill of Rights and Later Amendments
(SS.7.CG.2.3, SS.7.CG.2.4, SS.7.CG.3.5, SS.7.CG.3.6)
Students learn how the Constitution can be amended and then examine the first set of amendments, known as the Bill of Rights. They also learn about several later amendments to the U.S. Constitution—the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th—which ended slavery, protected individual rights from actions by state governments, and expanded American democracy by guaranteeing the right to vote to new groups. They learn how the government sometimes acts to limit our rights—in order to protect the rights of others. They examine several instances in which rights were limited, such as through the wartime suspension of habeas corpus, rationing of goods, and even the forced internment of groups during wartime.

Chapter 11. “May It Please the Court”: The Supreme Court in Action
(SS.7.CG.2.3, SS.7.CG.3.11)
Students learn about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions listed in the Florida civics standards and their effects: Marbury v. Madison, Scott v. Sandford, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier,  Gideon v. Wainwright, Miranda v. Arizona, In re Gault, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and United States v. Nixon.

Chapter 12. Federalism: National, State and Local Governments Acting Together
(SS.7.CG.2.7, SS.7.CG.3.4, SS.7.CG.3.7, SS.7.CG.3.8, SS.7.CG.3.12, SS.7.CG.3.13)
In this chapter, students learn about Florida’s state and local governments in the context of the complex relationship between our national and state governments known as “federalism.” First, students compare the “enumerated,” “reserved” and “concurrent” powers. They also analyze the effects of the Supremacy Clause. Then students look at the similarities and differences between the Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution.  They learn that the Florida Constitution addresses concerns specific to Florida, such as state finances, voting, public education, and local government. They compare the Governor of Florida with the President of the United States, and the Florida State Legislature with the U.S. Congress. They compare lawmaking at the state and national levels, Florida’s Constitution also has several unique requirements, such as a ban on state personal income tax and the requirement of English as the official language.  In addition, the Florida Constitution is easier to amend than the U.S. Constitution. Students also learn about different types of local government such as county and municipal, and consider the obligations and services of different levels of government.

Chapter 13. The Obligations, Responsibilities and Rights of Citizens
(SS.7.CG.2.1, SS.7.CG.2.2, SS.7.CG.2.3, SS.7.CG.2.4)
Students learn what citizenship is and how many people become U.S. citizens at birth. They also learn how foreign nationals lawfully living in the United States, known as “permanent residents,” are able after a number of years to become “naturalized” American citizens. Then students look at the obli¬gations, responsibilities and rights of American citizens. They learn that “citizenship obligations” are things that citizens must do—such as to obey the law, pay taxes, register with Selective Service (if male), and to serve on juries—and that “citizenship responsibilities” are things that citizens should do to make our democracy effective—such as being informed about public issues, voting, serving on local committees, and running for public office. Then they learn about the rights of both residents and citizens—including individual rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and additional rights in the Constitution, such as the right to apply for a writ of habeas corpus and the right to be subjected to any ex post facto law. They also learn about those rights that belong to U.S. citizens alone, such as the right to vote. 

Chapter 14. Elections and Voting
(SS.7.CG.2.6, SS.7.CG.2.7)
Students see how citizens participate in political decision-making by joining political par¬ties, by participating in election campaigns, and by voting in elections. They learn about the origins of our two major parties—the Democratic and Republican Parties. They consider the requirements for voting in Florida, and consider the nomination process, political campaigns, and campaign finance. They also consider the importance of free and fair elections and how they develop trust in our democratic institutions and help to preserve our constitutional republic.

Chapter 15. The Impact of Individuals, Interest Groups and the Media
(SS.7.CG.2.8, SS.7.CG.2.9)
Students learn how individuals, interest groups, and the “media”—newspapers, magazines, television, radio and the Internet—influence government and hold government officials accountable for their actions. Students see how private individuals can influence government decision-making by attending civic meetings, signing petitions, voting in elections, running for office, and peacefully protesting. Then they learn what interest groups are and the different ways that interest groups act to further their goals, such as monitoring government actions, lobbying, electioneering, litigation, and publicity.  Students consider how the media provide information to the public and act as “watchdogs” over our legislators and government officials. Finally, they learn how to analyze political communications and how to identify bias, symbolism, and propaganda.

Chapter 16. Public Policy
In this chapter, students learn about public policy and develop their own plans to resolve a state or local problem. They identify the problem, conduct research, identify the appropriate level of government and best agency to address the problem, develop different public policy alternatives, evaluate the pros and cons of each alternative, and finally determine a course of action.

Chapter 17. Types of Government and Economic System
(SS.7.CG.3.1, SS.7.CG.3.2, SS.7.CG.3.15)
In this chapter, students learn about the different types of gov¬ernments around the world. They classify forms of government based on who holds power (democracy, monarchy, autocracy, oligarchy or theocracy), and classify systems of government based on the relationship of the central and local governments (unitary, federal or confederal). Students consider the advantages of the American constitutional republic over other forms of government, and the advantages of the federal system over other systems. They especially consider how our federal system of government balances the need for national unity with the demand for local sovereignty. Students then examine different types of economic systems, including the free market, also known as capitalism, and two government-controlled economic systems: socialism and communism.

Chapter 18. American Foreign Policy
(SS.7.CG.4.1, SS.7.CG.4.2 & SS.7.CG.4.3)
In this chapter, students consider how the United States relates to the rest of the international community through its foreign policy. They learn the differences between domestic policy and foreign policy. Next, they learn the goals of U.S. foreign policy (the “national interest”) and explore the instruments that policymakers have at their disposal to achieve those goals, including diplomacy, espionage, sanctions, humanitarian efforts, peacekeeping operations, and war. This is followed by a brief history of U.S. foreign policy and involvement in international conflicts including World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the War in Vietnam, the Iran Hostage Crisis, the First Gulf War, the attacks of September 11, 2001, the “War on Terror,” and the Second Gulf Wars. The chapter concludes by reviewing U.S. and private participation in a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO and the World Trade Organization.

A Practice End-of-Course Assessment
The book ends with a final practice test with 56 questions based on Florida’s revised Civics and Government Standards.


To see a PowerPoint introduction to both of our middle school resources, click below:

To see the correlations between the State’s learning standards and the new Gateway to American Civics and Government, click below:

To see a list of primary sources in Gateway to American Civics and Government, click below: