Students in Kentucky must pass a 100 question citizenship test to graduate starting next year, a requirement they’re already preparing for at many schools.
The new graduation requirement spawned from a Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Jared Carpenter approved in 2017 that tasked the Kentucky Department of Education with creating an exam with questions from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Carpenter told The Richmond Register students must score at least 60 percent, but can take the test as many times as necessary. A passing grade within the last five years meets the graduation requirement.
“A lot of students I spoke with thought we needed a bill like this,” he said. “They thought people needed to be more engaged. They wanted their fellow classmates to have an understanding of our history and how our government works.”
Central Hardin High School students started taking the test this year as sophomores and juniors, and they seemed to have different takes on the test.
“It’s the stuff you learned over the years,” junior Caden Wilson told WDRB. “You should know most of it.”
Skyler Lucas, also a junior, thought it was a little more in-depth.
“Not all of it is common knowledge,” he said. “You have to know more about the government than what you learned.”
WDRB quizzed several adults around Cecilia, Kentucky with questions from the test – such as the number of amendments to the U.S. Constitution or the number of U.S. Senators - and many couldn’t correctly answer. Even folks who allegedly took advanced placement history in high school were baffled.
Professor James Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, reminds us “Individuals are social creatures inextricably embedded in their communities. As such, their identity, their most meaningful relationships, and their morality can only develop from a healthy connection to the social fabric of which they are a part.” Civic education is not only needed for immigrants, but for all citizens. It serves to strengthen our national identity. It is not so much about the facts, but the framing story that is told herein.
Central Hardin teacher Emily Wortham said she understands why lawmakers approved the bill.
“It is important, because if you look at all the things happening in the world today, everything is shaped by things that have happened in the past,” she said.