Rhode Island students who say their public education failed to teach them about elections, government, and the legal system are expected in court this week. A year ago, about a dozen local public school students sued the state, alleging a lack of civics instruction violates their constitutional right to an education.

The group made national headlines for their effort. The legal action follows years of decline in civics education, the suit alleges.

Jennifer Wood leads the Rhode Island Center for Justice, which helped organize the suit. She says civics have been pushed to the side in favor of subjects that appear on standardized tests, like reading and math.

“Literacy and numeracy are critical components for being adequately prepared for civic engagement,” Wood said. “But they are not themselves really teaching students about their own history, about how they participate in society more broadly and particularly in government.”

Wood says it’s been the process of the lawsuit that has proven to be the real civics education for the students involved.

“And that’s kind of the point of the case; young people from elementary, middle and high school should be understanding how does the court system work? How do elections work? How do the different branches of government intersect with one another?”

The state, which now has control of the troubled Providence School District, has filed a motion to dismiss the suit.