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High School Civics Test Sparking Controversy In Arizona

Last week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill requiring all high school students to pass a civics test before they can graduate. The class of 2017 will be the first to have the new requirement.

Under the law, students will need to get 60 of the 100 questions on the test correct. They can take the first test in eighth grade, and can retake it until they pass.

President and CEO of Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Glenn Hamer told KNPR's State of the Nevada that the bill had wide bi-partisan support, including from retired Supreme Court Justice and Arizona native Sandra Day O'Connor. 

It is the same test people must pass in order to gain United States citizenship.

Hamer said it is a basic test that covers information that is important for all citizens of the United States to know. 

"This is something we should feel good about in Arizona" Hamer said.

However, not everyone supports the test. Joe Thomas is a history teacher and the vice president of Arizona Education Association. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that the test is too simple to use as a measure for graduation.

"We're aiming too low. It shouldn't be 'who is the vice president.' It should be 'why did this president choose this person for vice president," Thomas said.

Thomas believes if that country really wants students to become informed and engaged citizens it should give them higher standards to reach. 

He points out that the test is for immigrants who are coming from a different country and learning a new political process and new customs. Students who have been through the American school system should be required to have a deeper understanding of civics.

Arizona is the first state to enact such a law, but the test is being pushed by the Scottsdale-based Joe Foss Institute, which wants all 50 states to adopt it by 2017. 

Click here to see the U.S. Civics Test.


Glenn Hamer, president and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Joe Thomas, history teacher and vice president of the Arizona Education Association
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