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States to Consider Requiring Civics Graduation Test

December 7, 2014

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North Dakota state lawmakers will soon vote on a proposal to require high school students to pass a civics test before graduating, the latest in a growing number of states to require such knowledge of government.

The bill, announced by the state's first lady, Betsy Dalrymple, would set up a system for testing students such that they must get 60 of 100 questions on a civics test correct in order to graduate. Part of the proposal is to use the U.S. Citizenship test as a basis for the graduation exam. That test is a 100-question test as well, and prospective immigrants must correctly answer 6 of a random 10 questions in order to pass.

Dalrymple, in promoting the test, cited a recent study that found that a significant number of American students didn't know who was the first President. (It was George Washington).

Supporting the effort in North Dakota and in several other states is the Civics Education Initiative. A spokesman for the nonprofit group said that the test would be a basic one and that students could attempt it as many times as they needed in order to pass.

Also considering requiring such a civics test are lawmakers in Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah.

High school graduation tests are common across the country, with nearly half of states employing some form of exit exam.

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