Committee Postpones Vote On Bill To Require Civics Test For Graduation
January 21, 2015 — A bill that would require high school students to pass a U.S. citizenship test before graduating was questioned by some lawmakers today at the General Assembly. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Eric Weddle has more.
INDIANAPOLIS – Only half of U.S. adults can name all three branches of government, according to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute – and state Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, finds that troubling.
To help combat the issue, Wesco authored House Bill 1296, which would require high school students to take a civics test as a prerequisite for graduation.
The House Education Committee debated the bill Tuesday but postponed a vote.
The test is 100 questions and is similar to the one immigrants take before they can become a U.S. citizen.
Under the proposal, the test could be administered between grades 8 through 12 and students would be able to take it as many times as needed to pass. The bill provides that those who take the test must earn at least 60 percent to pass.
“I think our high school students ought to know at least what a new U.S. citizen is required to know to become a citizen,” Wesco said.
The bill states that school corporations are required to report back to the Department of Education the percentage of students who passed and those who failed.
“I would imagine that most of our high school graduates and students in this state could pass the test and I think that is an argument for why we ought to have the test,” Wesco said.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Civics Test is typically given orally, but the one Wesco proposes to give to high school students will be a written test. Students receiving their General Education Diploma will also be required to take the test.