American Civics Education Initiative
A New Graduation Requirement for Utah Students
American Civics Education Initiative, S.B. 60, was passed in the Utah legislative session of 2015. This law requires the successful passage of a basic civics test or an alternate assessment as a condition of graduation. This requirement applies to any public school student who graduates on or after January 1, 2016, as well as any student enrolled in an adult education program.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and their answers.
Per the legislation, the basic civics test must be created using 50 questions from the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) civics test. The test can be in any format, but a sample multiple choice assessment has been compiled by the USBE for the convenience of local education agencies (LEAs). The sample multiple choice assessment is based entirely on the practice tests created by the USCIS. The sample assessment can be found at the bottom of this page.
What is the alternate assessment?
The alternate assessment follows the same guidelines set forth by USCIS. In the alternate assessment, 10 questions are selected and the test-taker must answer 6 correctly.
How is the alternate assessment administered?
The alternate assessment is administered as an oral exam. The LEA may modify the manner of the administration of the alternate assessment for a student with a disability in accordance with the student’s IEP.
Who is eligible for the alternate assessment?
A student with a disability and/or a student who is within six months of intended graduation and has not passed the basic civics test.
What is a passing score for the basic civics test?
Students pass by answering 35 or more questions correctly from the 50-question test.
Can LEAs create their own test?
LEAs can create their own test, use the sample multiple choice test created by the USBE found at the bottom of this page, or access a version on the UTIPS platform using the directions at the bottom of this page. Any test must contain 50 questions from the USCIS naturalization test.
How can the basic civics test be administered?
Legislative sponsors did not intend for this assessment to command extensive classroom instructional time and there was no specific method of administration mandated. Efforts should be made to make the administration of this assessment as efficient as possible. LEA’s may opt for using an on-line tool as a way to administer the assessment.
At what grade can a student take the assessment?
The legislation was purposely written so that a student at any grade level, as deemed appropriate by the LEA, can take the assessment. For many students, this may be in the eighth grade when the US History course work contains much of the content of the basic civics test. Once they have taken and passed the assessment, they have met the graduation requirement.
How many times can a student take it?
A student can take the assessment as many times as necessary for passage.
Are LEAs required to keep a record of those students who pass the test?
LEAs must create a record of those students who successfully pass the test.
Do LEAs need to report the test results?
LEAs shall report this record to the State Superintendent when asked to do so.
Are there study materials available for students?
There are practice tests available on the USCIS web site.
Senate Bill 60 was passed in 2015. The Chief Sponsor was Howard A. Stephenson and the House Sponsor was Steve Eliason.
The board rule was published in July 2015 and it outlines the Civics Education Initiative requirements.
100 civics (history and government) questions and answers for the naturalization test.
Here is a sample test using 50 of the 100 United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) Civics Test questions.
Here are examples of ways to enhance the cognitive rigor of the basic civics test.
Here are the steps to use the UTIPS platform to administer the civics assessment.