Bill would require Iowa high school students to pass civics test to graduate
A bill at the Iowa Statehouse would require Iowa high school students to pass a civics exam in order to graduate.
“This is common sense," said Rep. Walt Rogers, R-Waterloo, who introduced the legislation.
HSB573 would require high school students score 60 percent or better on a test on the basics of American government and history in order get their diploma.
The civics test would be modeled after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services exam immigrants have to pass before becoming U.S. citizens.
“There’s 100 questions on the test and they randomly pick 10," said Rogers, who said the test for high schoolers would be the same format.
A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government. One third can’t name any of the protections of the First Amendment, which is part of the reason Rogers says this bill is important.
“I think if there’s this requirement to make sure you pass this civics test in high schools, [it] puts a little more impetus on our whole process to make sure kids are understanding those basics of our government," Rogers said.
Some opponents say they aren’t against teaching the content, but worry about the state imposing a high stakes exam on districts that will add to testing that’s already required.
Rogers says students can take the test as early as seventh grade and take it as many times needed to pass.
“Our high school students should know a little bit about civics," Rogers said.
If you want to test your civics knowledge, try this practice test from the Department of Homeland Security.