Politics

North Dakota May Require Students To Pass Citizenship Test In Order To Graduate

| by Jared Keever

High school students in North Dakota may soon have to pass an exam, similar to the one given to those applying for U.S. citizenship, in order to graduate. 

The Associated Press reports the state’s first lady, Betsy Dalrymple, joined a group of educators and lawmakers at a Monday news conference to unveil proposed legislation that would require students to pass a 100-question civics exam in order to receive a diploma. 

“Ninety percent of new Americans pass it on their first try,” first lady Betsy Dalrymple said, adding that some studies have shown that many students don't know that George Washington was the first U.S. president. “The goal is to know basic facts about our Republic.”

The 100-question collection is the same one used for those applying for citizenship. In order to become a citizen, applicants must correctly answer at least six of 10 questions, pulled at random, from the collection. 

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North Dakota lawmakers will consider the bill in January when the state Legislature reconvenes. 

Similar proposals have been offered in numerous states, including Missouri, where the nonprofit Civics Education Initiative unveiled plans in September to use the test for the state’s students. 

“When our citizens don't understand basic American civics, they're not likely to vote or take part in policy decision,” Sam Stone, the group’s campaign manager, said at the time, according to Ozarks First

Stone was on hand Monday in North Dakota, representing the group’s affiliate, the Joe Foss Institute, which is pushing the proposal in that state. 

“We want this test to be a first step in the rebirth of civics education,” Stone said, asserting more students could identify Lady Gaga than a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The more young people know, the more they vote, engage in government and take responsibility about their future,” he added. 

Stone said his goal is to enact similar laws in all U.S. states by 2017.

So far the initiative has been proposed in South Dakota, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah.

Sources: The Associated Press, Ozarks First / Photo Credit: Alberto G. / Flickr, Benjamin Chun/Flickr