INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana students would have to pass a 100-question citizenship test to graduate under a bill heard by a Senate panel Wednesday.
“There is a deficiency in government and civics knowledge and it's getting worse,” said Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn.
That's why he brought Senate Bill 132 to require students pass the same test that those becoming new citizens have to, starting in the 2020-21 school year.
He offered the bill in 2015, but it was defeated by the full Senate. The House considered the proposal the same year but didn't take a vote in committee.
According to the Education Commission of the States, eight states require students pass a civics test to graduate from high school. Several others require students take a civics test but don't tie passage to graduation.
Kruse said in states with the requirement, students on average pass on the third attempt. Under the bill, a student could take the test as many times as needed from grades 8-12.
Information on civics is covered in various grades in Indiana, including fifth, eighth, 11th and 12th.
Micah Clark, of the American Family Association of Indiana, quoted surveys showing some citizens can't name the branches of government or what country the United States declared interdependence from.
“This is not a partisan issue. The test is not partisan,” he said.
Several education groups opposed the bill.
Ken Folks, chief academic officer for the Indiana Department of Education, said a new graduation pathways program is already underway and legislators have pushed for less testing.
He said the department developed a government test that will be operational this year and schools can give this if they choose.
Folks also said students must have two credits of U.S. history and one credit of U.S. government to graduate.