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Passing Grade on Citizenship Test Now Required to Graduate High School in Arizona

Passing Grade on Citizenship Test Now Required to Graduate High School in Arizona

Arizona high school students will have to pass the same test that immigrants must take to obtain citizenship before they graduate under a new law signed Thursday by Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

The first-of-its-kind law will require students to take the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test, a set of 100 basic questions on U.S. government and history. Students will have to get 60 of the 100 questions correct in order to graduate.

The measure passed the state House and Senate in a single day. It’s one of the first measures Ducey, inaugurated earlier this week, signed into law.

Arizona is just the first state to require citizenship tests for high school students. The Civics Education Initiative is pursuing similar legislation in dozens of states, with the goal of mandating the test in all 50 states by Sept. 17, 2017 — the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. In Arizona, CEI’s effort was spearheaded by former senators Dennis DeConcini (D) and Jon Kyl (R).

In total, 18 states are likely to consider civics test requirements this year. North Dakota legislators this week advanced their own version through a state House committee.

The group backing the citizenship tests cite woefully low civics knowledge among most Americans. A 2011 survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found just 15 percent of Americans could correctly identify the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, while 27 percent knew Randy Jackson was a judge on “American Idol.” Only 13 percent knew the U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787. And just 38 percent were able to name all three branches of government.

To read the new legislation in full, go to the Arizona State Legislature’s website.

By Reid Wilson

Washington Post


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