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Analyzing Major U.S. Policies

45 min

Essential Question 

  • How does the United States determine what policies to implement?  

Guiding Questions 

  • How does the United States formulate domestic or foreign policies? 
  • What political, social, and economic reasons have led to different policies? 
  • How is the success of domestic or foreign policies measured? 


  • Students will be able to analyze the development, implementation, and consequences of (the educator’s choice of policy).* 

*See Facilitation Notes.

Student Resources: 

Teacher Resources: 

  • Websites curated in advance or stations with necessary information  

Facilitation Notes 

  • This lesson is designed to be usable for any domestic or foreign policy. Although this example features No Child Left Behind, teachers could replace the featured policy with any policy they wanted students to learn. The context section of the graphic organizer would need to be changed—this could be done by the teacher or assigned to students.  
  • The teacher will decide if students will work as a class, in small groups, or individually to complete the organizer. If this is the first policy review, it is suggested the teacher leads a whole group walk through or provides the websites for students to use to complete.  


  • Post a definition of domestic policy and ask students the following question: Running schools is traditionally a local or state responsibility. Why would the federal government make domestic policy decisions regarding education?  
  • A sample definition of domestic policy- decisions regarding actions/programs aimed at addressing issues or needs of a nation’s people.  
  • Have students share their answers and discuss their ideas.  
  • Transition: Say to students: You participate in education nearly every day and much of that is controlled by an outside entity, whether it is local, state, religious leadership or federal government decisions. When education policies are created, they are meant to be in the best interest of students. Education is important to the nation as well, not just the students in the buildings.  


  • Go through with students the context behind the creation of the Department of Education and introduce the graphic organizer along with how students will be completing it (teacher choice, see facilitation note).
  • Transition: Today we will look at one specific domestic policy regarding education. This policy is no longer in place, so it allows us to see a policy from beginning to end. We are looking at an education policy because you are very familiar with education, so it is a good place to see firsthand how government policies can affect the people they represent.  
  • Give students time to work through the graphic organizer or go through it with them as a class, whichever method has been decided. 
  • Ask students the assess and reflect questions.  

Assess & Reflect 

  • Which phrase from the Constitution’s Preamble would federal policies about education align with best in your opinion? Explain. 
  • If you led the federal Department of Education, what suggestions would you make for education policies and why? 
  • If you oversaw state decisions, what parameters would you use to determine if you were going to accept federal funding in exchange for following federal education guidelines? Explain. 


  • If applicable, students can research NCLB’s effects on their state/district specifically.  
  • Have students research their representative or senators voting record on the specific policy being reviewed.  

Student Handouts