A group of bi-partisan lawmakers from both the House and Senate propose making a civics test a requirement for high school graduation.

The “Missouri Civics Education Initiative” would require every high school student to pass a United States Citizenship Civics test–the same one hundred question test immigrants are required to take for U.S. Citizenship–prior to receiving a diploma.  Students would need to score sixty percent or higher to pass the test.

Senator Jeanie Riddle speaks at a press conference with fellow lawmakers.

Senator Jeanie Riddle speaks at a press conference with fellow lawmakers.

Senator Ryan Silvey joined fellow members of the General Assembly to discuss the proposed legislation.  Silvey said it’s important for students to understand how their government and country operates.

“It’s something that is non-partisan.  Clearly, you can see we have House and Senate representation.  We have Republican and Democrat representation.  It’s something we’re all excited to get behind and we think it will make our students better prepared for the future,” said Silvey.

Senator Jeanie Riddle is a former teacher who said the goal is to make sure that our students are knowledgeable and interactive with our government.

“Our system of government is designed for informed citizens and participating citizens,” said Riddle.  “We have to make sure that they’re knowledgeable and have the ability to participate.”

State Representative Kathy Swan said she looks forward to working with her House and Senate colleagues on this initiative.  Swan said a broad basic knowledge of civics is necessary to be responsible citizens.

“As a nation, to better understand our present, properly prepare for our future, we need to fully have the knowledge of the present and of the past,” said Swan.

Arizona recently became the first state in the country to pass the Civics Education Initiative.  The language being proposed by the five Missouri lawmakers is similar to that passed in Arizona.

Several lawmakers took the civics test and shared their scores.  Senator Silvey said he found the questions to be very informative and scored a ninety-seven percent.  Senator Riddle said she spoke with Silvey and they both wanted to take the test prior to thinking about the legislation.  Riddle said she missed two and scored a ninety-eight percent.