Only One State Now Requires Basic Citizenship Test to Graduate

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US History

If you thought mastering basic knowledge of American history, the Founding Documents and our form of government would be a requirement of graduation from high schools across the country, you would be wrong.

This week, Arizona became the first state in the nation to enact a law requiring high school students to pass the U.S. citizenship test on civics before graduation – the same test immigrants must take and pass to attain citizenship.

The measure received bipartisan support and was among the first acts undertaken by the Arizona state legislature and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey who signed it into law yesterday.

Under the new statute, all students must take the test and score at least 60 out of 100, beginning in the 2016-2017 school year – a requirement that the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute says 15 other states are actively considering this year. The institute’s goal is to have all 50 states adopt the civics education measure by 2017, the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.

Institute president Frank Riggs said the testing initiative seeks “to ensure the delivery the very basics civics education that every high school graduate should have.” The Arizona law requires students pass the civics test before earning a high school or GED diploma.

Republican Arizona Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough – who fast-tracked the legislation said “requiring that students pass this test is not by any means a silver bullet, but I think is a step, a small step forward”… adding that “we need to encourage the people of America to become more aware of the values of America.”

Here are just a few of the questions that appear on the immigrant test and will appear on Arizona’s civics test (correct answers in bold):

The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution. What are these words?

  • I have a dream
  • We the People
  • Fourscore and seven years ago
  • Ask not what your country can do for you
  • The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?

  • The Bill of Rights
  • The 10 Commandments
  • The Law of the Land
  • The Supreme Laws
  • The Executive Laws

How many amendments does the Constitution have?

  • 17
  • 10
  • 27
  • 20
  • 37

How many U.S. senators are there?

  • 200
  • 150
  • 100
  • 50

How long is the term of the president of the United States?

  • 2 years
  • 4 years
  • 6 years
  • 8 years

If both the president and the vice president are incapacitated and can no longer serve, who becomes president of the United States?

  • The Secretary of Homeland Security
  • The Speaker of the House
  • The Secretary of State
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Attorney General

How many justices are on the Supreme Court?

  • 5
  • 7
  • 9
  • 11
  • 13

Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • George Washington
  • Benedict Arnold
  • John Hancock
  • Benjamin Franklin

During the Cold War, what was the main concern of the United States?

  • Fascism
  • Communism
  • Commercialism
  • Terrorism
  • Nazism