Bill requiring civics exam for high school graduation passes Texas House

Bill would replace end-of-course U.S. history exam with civics test
Student doing homework
Student doing homework(KLTV)
Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 6:02 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, TX (KTRE) - A bill that will include a civics test in the graduation requirements for public high school students that passed in the Texas House Wednesday.

The bill would require students to answer the same questions that are found on the civics test that people seeking to become naturalized citizens have to take.

The bill, which was co-authored by State Rep. Trent Ashby, R-Lufkin, has several other hurdles to clear before it becomes state law.

If it gets out of a Texas Senate committee, it will then have to be passed by the state senate in the same form that it passed the Texas House. Then it will have to be signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

The bill would replace the existing U.S. history end-of-course exam with a civics test.

“There are concerns that the public-school curriculum and the end-of-course test for U.S. history fail to cover critical issues of historical importance and that, as a result, high school graduates are becoming less proficient in basic civics,” the analysis for the bill states. “H.B. 1244 seeks to address these concerns by replacing the end-of-course test for U.S. history as a graduation requirement for public high school students with the civics test that is based on the civics test administered to individuals applying for U.S. citizenship.”

According to the analysis for the bill, HB 1244 would prohibit a student from receiving his or her high school diploma until the student has passed the civics test by answering at least 70 percent of the questions correctly.

“HB 1244 requires the civics test to consist of all the questions on the civics test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the naturalization process under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act and requires the questions be presented in a multiple-choice format,” the analysis states.

The bill also allows for the admission, review, and dismissal committee of a student enrolled in a special education program to determine whether any allowable modification is necessary to administer the test to those students. The ARD committees for those students will also decide whether each student is required to pass the test to receive a high school diploma.

In addition, the rules outlined by HB 1244 would require:

• the test be administered electronically in the presence of a teacher, teacher’s aid, proctor, or campus testing coordinator,

• the test be scored by that person or the district, and

• the results of the test be submitted to the Texas Education Agency not later than the last instructional day of the school year in which the test is administered.

To track the bill’s process through the Texas Legislature, click this link.

“This bill will help our teachers by allowing the to focus on the critical and essential knowledge that should be taught in U.S. history and worry less about teaching to the TEKS test,” Ashby said in a previous story.

Previous story: East Texas lawmaker files bill to require civics exam for high school graduation

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