Indiana students could soon be required to take citizenship test

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INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 20, 2015) – A proposal before Indiana lawmakers would require high school students pass the same test immigrants take to obtain citizenship before they graduate.

The House Education Committee heard testimony Tuesday.

“You might glance over there and say these are rather simple questions,” said Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), the bill’s author. “And they are.”

The 100 question U.S. Immigration and Naturalization civics test asks everything from the first three words of the Constitution, to who the president was during World War One.

Click here for a sample test.

“I think our high school students ought to know what a new U.S. citizen is required to know,” Wesco said.

Supporters of the measure cited numerous studies pointing to a lack of knowledge among Americans.

“They do know who Jennifer Lopez is married to,” Micah Clark said, with the American Family Association of Indiana.

Indiana is one of 18 states, according to the Civics Education Initiative, pursuing such legislation. Last week, Arizona became the first state to make the measure law.

While no one argued against more civic engagement, critics question the effectiveness, calling it a lesson in memorization, not U.S. history.

“I think simply requiring another test when we already have an excessive testing environment here in Indiana really misses the point,” John O’Neal said, with the Indiana State Teachers Association.

A Legislative Services Agency fiscal impact analysis said the bill could impact graduation rates and estimated a cost of $2.3 million to implement in the first year.

“In Indiana, we set a record as last on voter turnout in this last election,” Wesco said. “Regardless of what we’re teaching right now in our schools, we’re doing something wrong.”

The committee still has to vote on the measure. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate.

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