In order to graduate, Utah high school students may soon be required to pass the very same citizenship test for immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship.
Sen. Howard Stephenson, Rep. Steve Eliason and Overstock.com CEO Jonathan Johnson announced they will push legislation in the 2015 session requiring every high school student in the state pass the U.S. Citizen Civics test.
"When citizens don't understand how government workd, they aren't likely to vote or take part in policy discussions," says Johnson. "This civics education initiative is important to help keep what the Founding Fathers set up."
Stephenson and Eliason say they don't anticipate any additional costs to schools because of the test. The questions and study materials are already produced by the U.S. government. Schools will be allowed to administer tests however they want and students can take it as many times as needed in order to pass.
"As we push for better STEM education in Utah, there's no requirement for civics education," said Eliason. "If we can help students understand government better, then they're more likely to vote and engage in important discussions."
Stephenson cited recent studies that showed just one in three Americans can name all three branches of government, and even fewer can describe what each one does.
"Other studies show that less than 4% of all high school students in Oklahoma and Arizona can pass this test, but 92% of immigrants pass on their first try."
Backers say they still need to work out some of the details with the State Board of Education, but they say implementing the program should be fairly easy.