Social Studies

Arizona First to Require Citizenship Test for Graduation

By Liana Loewus — January 16, 2015 1 min read

Arizona has enacted a law that requires students to correctly answer 60 of 100 questions on the U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate from high school.

Newly elected Gov. Doug Ducey, who helped fast-track the bill, signed it last night. Arizona is the first state to pass such a law, according to the Arizona Republic.

Its quick passage was fueled by the Civics Education Initiative, which has been conducting a campaign to persuade states to require that students show a mastery of the workings of American government. North Dakota and Tennessee are moving quickly on similar measures.

Students graduating in 2017 will be the first to be held to the requirement. The test, which students can first take in 8th grade and keep taking until they pass, is the same one the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department administers to people seeking U.S. citizenship.

The new law doesn’t require a particular curriculum. That’s left up to school districts, the Republic reports.

Ducey mentioned his support for the American Civics bill in his Jan. 12 State of the State address, citing a survey showing that 96 percent of elementary students could not pass a basic civics test. As the newspaper pointed out, the 2009 study, conducted for the Goldwater Institute, was discredited after failing to show it adhered to research standards.

Although many states require civics coursework, very few require students to pass tests in that subject in order to graduate, according to a 2013 analysis by the Education Commission of the States.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.