Texas bill would require students to pass citizenship test to graduate

The U.S. Naturalization pilot test is used at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization offices in San Antonio, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
The U.S. Naturalization pilot test is used at the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization offices in San Antonio, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas high school students may be required to pass a U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate.

On Thursday, the House Public Education Committee approved House Bill 1776, which would replace a U.S. history course that students take at the end of a semester with a test that people take to get their U.S. citizenship.

“The content of the United States citizenship exam is content that every U.S. citizen needs to know,” Joni Rodela, a Social Studies teacher at Lubbock ISD said.

Rodela says while the 100 questions on the U.S. citizenship test are basic facts she teaches her students, she is concerned that it is much easier than the current U.S. history end-of-course exam.

“For example, what is a constitutional amendment? If the president and vice president can no longer serve who becomes president?” Rodela said. “I don’t need to know any historical context whatsoever to be able to spit out and identify how many constitutional amendments that we currently have.”

Under HB 1776, a student would need to receive a score of 70 percent or better to fill the graduation requirement for U.S. history. Supporters of the bill say the goal is for Texas students to graduate with the knowledge that’s critical in becoming an engaged citizen in society.

“There are some concerns about it,” Jennifer Canaday, Government Relations Director at the Association of Texas Professional Educators said. “While it would save the state some money, there could be potential costs on the districts if they have to pay for the citizenship test to be administered to those students.”

Canaday says her concerns are financial. She says the state would save money by no longer having to rewrite and administer the end-of-course exam.

Fifteen states have passed similar legislation.

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