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High school students could have to take 100-question civics test before graduating

Posted at 2:29 PM, Jan 17, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Do you know three of the original 13 states? How about who was president during World War I? High school students may soon have to answer questions like that before graduating.

Ind. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, introduced a bill that would include a civics test as a requirement for graduation at an Indiana high school.The student would have to get a score higher than 60 percent to complete the requirement and could take it as many times as they need.

The test would contain questions “identical to the material tested on the one hundred (100) question United States Civics Tests administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to each applicant for United States citizenship.”

The bill passed the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, 7-3. Sens. Melton, Stoops and Freeman voted no on the proposal. It will move to the full Senate.

Melton, D-Gary; Stoops, D-Bloomington; and Freeman, R-Indianapolis; explained their no votes during a committee meeting Wednesday.

“I agree that civics and understanding government is extremely important,” Melton said. “The issue I have is tying it as a requirement to graduation. … However, I see opportunities for the test as a tool in our government curriculum.”

Melton suggested it should be a test or midterm for students, not a requirement for graduation.

Stoops’ problem with the test was that the questions are already covered in different classes or tests, and that graduates will remember the material for a short period of time, then forget it.

“You’ll get to the same position in a few years once that person is out of school,” Stoops said.

Freeman said he would like to think he’s educated in American history, as somebody who studied it in college.

“I want to instill in these kids American history, and where we come from, and why we get there,” Freeman said. “I have to tell you, having a third-grader and a kindergartner, the thing that I hear from every educator that I go to is they can’t handle one more thing for the state to give them to do. I just can’t -- as much as I think this valuable. In this particular area, I think this is valuable. Somebody else is going to have a different idea tomorrow. And pretty soon, we get what we got, which is schools are spending so much time testing that I’m in school 180 days a year, I’m starting school in July and my kid does all these hoops to have to go from one grade to another and graduate. I just think it’s time to take a pause.”

Nobody who voted in favor of the bill chose to explain their vote. If the proposal becomes law, the new requirement would begin with the 2020-2021 school year.

The test would have questions similar to the following, according to an online practice test:

What is the highest court in the United States?
A. the Court of Appeals
B. the Supreme Court
C. the District Court
D. the Federal Court

Who was President during the Great Depression and World War II?
A. Calvin Coolidge
B. Herbert Hoover
C. Harry Truman
D. Franklin Roosevelt

What ocean is on the West Coast of the United States?
A. Atlantic Ocean
B. Pacific Ocean
C. Arctic Ocean
D. Southern Ocean

How many U.S. Senators are there?
A. four hundred thirty-five (435)
B. fifty (50)
C. one hundred (100)
D. fifty-two (52)

What are two Cabinet-level positions?
A. Secretary of the Interior and Secretary of History
B. Secretary of Weather and Secretary of Energy
C. Secretary of State and Secretary of Labor
D. Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of the Navy

(Answers: B, D, B, C, C)

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