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Civics 101: New civics test required for high school graduation

October 4th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Erin West 

HYRUM — Students at Mountain Crest High School are facing a new requirement for graduation: the United States Citizenship test. The state’s new American Civics Initiative bill, passed in March, requires all Utah high school students to pass a basic civics test as a condition for receiving a high school diploma or adult education secondary diploma.

295_constitution“We have become keenly aware of the fact that Americans are essentially civically illiterate,” said Sen. Howard Stephenson of Salt Lake County, the bill’s sponsor. “[The test] has questions that most Americans should know. They don’t.”

The bill offered a one-year window for schools to get adjusted, but Mountain Crest assistant principal Brittany Foster says students have gotten a head start and are expected to complete the test by Nov. 13.

“I think that being aware of the requirements of the test is a necessity for students,” she said.

Students will take the test starting in the eighth grade. “It’s a good time to start in the eighth grade, especially now that ninth grade will be merging into high school next year,” said Laura Frandsen, the president of the Parent Student Teacher Association for South Cache Center.

Test your own civic literacy here.

The test consists of 50 questions selected from the 100 on the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service civics assessment for foreign nationals seeking citizenship, and includes subjects on the U.S. system of government, principles of American democracy, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, American history, geography, symbols and holidays. A 70 percent score is required to pass, and it can be taken as many times as necessary.

Foster says the test is accessible from the Cache County School District website, which also includes study materials, sample questions and interactive practice tests. Students take the test online on their own time, she said.

Stephenson, in promoting his legislation, said that if immigrants must pass the test to become citizens, it’s only fair that U.S. citizens should know the answers too.

Most Americans, the senator said, “know very little about the foundation of our nation and the government we have. We need to ensure that American voters are aware of the kind of government they have so they can act in it in a responsible way.”


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