Legislation with civics test requirement for graduation gets hearing in the House

In January a group of bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate offered up a proposal that would make a civics test a requirement for high school graduation.

HB 574, Sponsored by Elijah Haahr (R- Springfield), HB 578 sponsored by Rep. Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau), and HB 584 sponsored by Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City) were heard in the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on February 9.

The bills, which are nearly identical, would establish the “Missouri Civics Education Initiative” and would require every high school student to pass a United States Citizenship Civics test prior to receiving a diploma.  Students would need to score sixty percent or higher to pass the test. Students would be given as many chances to take the test as they need to pass. This is the same test given to immigrants in order to become U.S. citizens.

Sens. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Jeannie Riddle (R-Mokane) have sponsored similar legislation in the Senate.

“This initiative is designed to help our teachers and our students understand how government and democracy works and to encourage them to participate in it more actively and successfully,” LeFaver said.

Rep. Swan has pointed to statistics that say 92 percent of immigrants pass the test while students are not passing at nearly that high of a percentage, some statistics saying as low as 34 percent.

No vote was taken on the bills.

For more information about education issues, please contact Brian Bunten, asst. general counsel/director of governmental affairs for the Missouri Chamber, at bbunten@mochamber.com or by phone at 573-634-3511.

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The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry understands that the quality of life in our state depends on quality jobs for Missourians. To that end, we have one simple mission: to protect and advance Missouri business.

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