Civics Test Graduation Requirement

Many states are finding legislature being proposed to require students to pass a civics test (usually identical to the USCIS Naturalization Exam) before graduating from a public high school in their state.  There are TWO national organizations (Joe Foss Institute and Civics Education Initiative) that have set a goal to have this requirement in every state in the next few years.

Not all of our messages on the Google Group have been identified as information about this Hot Topic.  Here is a search result for "naturalization" on our group, one for "citizenship", and one for "civics" (You do need to be logged in to the Google Group to see the search results).

 Do we have research on the civics test itself?  What does quality civics teaching and learning look like? Testimony/Department Statements/Talking Points

State Civic Ed Requirements, from CIRCLE, 2012


    States that have adopted (in order of adoption), with implementation specifics, including state webpage with info and a link to the actual text of law if available:

    • Starting  with the class of 2017 all students must pass a Civics test based on the 100 questions from the Naturalization Study Guide.
    • There is no parent opt out; it is not a State Assessment but a Graduation Requirement
    • LEA’s put together their own assessment, collect the data, and issue a diploma only to students who have passed.  The State does not collect any data or record any data.
    • Students can take the test anytime as many times as they need as long as they pass by graduation. 
    • Students receiving special education services are exempt from obtaining a passing score unless required by an IEP 
     Administration Manual
    North Dakota
    • In order to graduate, any student in public, private, or home school, pursing a general equivalency diploma, or enrolled in the center for distance education must pass the US Naturalization exam with 70/100 questions correct.
    • A student may be exempt by provisions of an IEP. 
    • Student may take starting in 7th grade, and may retake as many times as needed.  
    • It is up to the district to determine the process for administering the test.  There is no state reporting requirement. 
     ND Civics Test
    • Students must get 35/50 items correct in order to graduate from a public or choice HS, any grade level may take it, no reporting requirement.  Most LEAs will administer at 8th grade.
    • Alternate assessment is identical to the process for citizenship (10 questions, oral) for students with IEPs or graduating within six months. 
    • State website with sample test and many resources established. 
    American Civics Education Initiative
    • State does not establish a testing window or an official test.  Students may take test any time after entering 7th grade, may retake test until they pass.  
    • No scores are collected by the state.  Districts must add completion/passing of test to student transcripts.
    • Students who receive special ed services are not required to complete the civics test unless outlined in their IEP.  
    Idaho Civics Assessment 
    • School districts would select 25-50 questions from the citizenship test, students must answer 70% correctly. 
    • Students may retake if necessary to pass. 
    • A student with an IEP under which the civics test is determined to an inappropriate requirement does not have to take the test. 
    South Carolina
    • All students of public or charter schools must take the USCIS test as part of the US Government required credit, starting with freshmen of 2016-17 school year (no required minimum score)
    • Results are reported and included on school report card
    • Students with IEPs may be exempt
    • Unit of study of subject matter taught to immigrants seeking to become citizens added to required HS civics course.  Each student will have to pass the test in that class (60/100).  
    • Starts with students entering 9th grade after July 1, 2015.
    • District determines method & manner, student may retake test as many times as needed to pass, passage will be documented on transcript. 
    • A student may be exempted based on their IEP
     Implementation of Act 469
    • Identify as a graduation requirement, not a state level assessment.  There is no "opt out" for parents, as this is not a state assessment.
    • No state-level test - districts are responsible to procure, write, gather information for the test, and establish it in their local curriculum.  NO scores are sent to the state.
    • Students with IEP's must complete the test, but do not have to pass it.  Students with LEP may take it in language of choice.  There is no accommodation for students with federal 504 plans. Students may retake as many times as needed.   
    • Transcripts should indicate "passed requirement", and not specific details on the number correct.   
     WI Act 55 Civics Requirement Implementation 
    • Passed the Sandra Day O'Connor Civics Education Act.  
    • Does not have the civics test requirement, but MS students must pass a one-semester civics course to pass to HS.  The course has 40 benchmarks, 35 of which are aligned to the End of Course Assessment.  
    • The MS civics course has an EOCA that counts for teacher assessment, school grades, and 30% of a student's final course grade
     Tutorial resources for instructional assistance
     New Hampshire
    •  Students graduating after Jan 1, 2017 must take a civics test as part of their history and government courses.  They do not have to pass it in order to graduate.  Students who do pass the USCIS test receive certificates from their district.
    • Districts make their own tests, but are "encouraged" to use the USCIS official test.  
    • The Kansas State Department of Education has adopted a plan for the creation of an award and a collaborative network (Civic Advocacy Network) for schools that create, promote, and support civic engagement opportunities for their students.
    • The measure was brought by our Attorney General (Derek Schmidt) to the BOE and not to the legislature.  They (the AG’s office) have agreed to a broader definition of civics education and have endorsed the program above.
    • This is the pilot year (90 schools) for the program.  It will be operational for the 2017-2018 school year
    Currently there is nowhere to find this information.  To request a power point on the program contact Don Gifford
    • Ninth graders starting after July 2017 must pass an exam (60/100 questions) similar to the US citizenship test to graduate high school.
    • Districts may complete a crosswalk of USCIS questions and their existing assessments before amending the assessment to comply with the new law. 

    •  The MN Legislature passed legislation stating that students must pass 30 of the 50 civics test questions (selected by the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation from the USCIS test) beginning in the 2017-18 school year
    • Test questions are posted on MN Legacy website:
    • A district may not prevent a student from graduating based on this test. 
    • Schools/districts determine logistics of the test
     MN Department of Education
    • Implemented in 2018-19 school year
    • Students must score 60% or higher on the 100 questions of the USCIS naturalization test in multiple choice format. 
      AR Dept of Ed
      Policy Doc