Dakota students need more than Lady Gaga to graduate Most teenagers can identify Lady Gaga, but only a disappointing few could name one of the nation's founding fathers (Reuters / ThinkStock)
Dakota students need more than Lady Gaga to graduate
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If you don't know how many voting members are in the U.S. House of Representatives, or answers to numerous other questions asked of immigrants trying to become American citizens, then you may not get through high school in North Dakota.

The state's first lady has joined educators and lawmakers to unveil legislation that would require high school students to pass a 100-question civics test. The test would begin in 2016.

Immigrants applying to become citizens must correctly answer six of 10 questions that are chosen at random from the same exam. It is given verbally.

"Ninety percent of new Americans pass it on their first try," first lady Betsy Dalrymple said. But she noted studies have shown that many students don't know that George Washington was the first U.S. president. "The goal is to know basic facts about our Republic."

Lawmakers will consider the bill when they reconvene in January. Similar efforts are also underway in South Dakota, Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah, according to Sam Stone, spokeswoman for the nonprofit pushing the effort, the Joe Foss Institute.

Stone said most teenagers can identify Lady Gaga or a judge on "American Idol." But only a disappointing few could name one of the nation's founding fathers or a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Kids have an amazing knowledge of pop culture. We just wish some of this critical information also is what's being absorbed by students," Stone said.

"We want this test to be a first step in the rebirth of civics education," she added. "The more young people know, the more they vote, engage in government and take responsibility about their future."

The questions on the citizenship test include simple civics: naming the current U.S. president (answer: Barack Obama), the number of voting members in the U.S. House (answer: 435) or the year the Constitution was written (answer: 1787).

There's also geography. Name the ocean bordering the nation's West Coast (the Pacific). And some history. Why does the American flag have 13 stripes? (That's the number of original colonies.)

The goal is to enact similar laws in all U.S. states by 2017. That's when the Constitution turns 230 years old. Her Arizona-based organization is named after the late South Dakota governor who won the Congressional Medal of Honor during WWII.

The proposal wouldn't impose extra costs for schools. That's because the questions are available on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. Individual schools would decide how to implement the test, said North Dakota School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Critical thinking challenge: Why are immigrants more successful on the test than students?

Assigned 70 times


COMMENTS (47)
  • devon2015
    12/08/2014 - 10:23 a.m.

    How many times are they allowed to take this test before they completely fail and wont be allowed to take it again? Also after passing this test will they get EVERY right Americans have?

  • rachelh10503
    12/08/2014 - 12:03 p.m.

    I think Immigrants are more successful on tests then others because since they were from a different country, they may have been taught more than in the u.s. or they were taught different skills.

  • JH2001skate
    12/08/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    immragrants are more successful because to get into the u.s they have to pass a test. The test is on basic facts about the u.s so the immragrants study and will remember the facts

  • Demii-OBr
    12/08/2014 - 01:59 p.m.

    I am wondering why the students are not passing the test as much as the immigrants. Maybe they just need a little push to pass the test. I think it is really good that

  • Alysseh171
    12/08/2014 - 03:19 p.m.

    Immigrants are more successful than students because the students live in the US immigrants are studing just to get here to see family or live a better life.I think students don't like anwsering stupid question about long ago simple because many students will not use it in the daily live or jobs that they will have later on. Being a scientist or a manager of a business has nothing to do with the olden day and things were back then it's about nothing except what is today and the furture. Most people don't realize how much we know and how capible we are of the nation.

  • Eriku2
    12/08/2014 - 08:49 p.m.

    This article is about the immigration test. Most kids dint know the founding fathers. But they know pop culture. This test is design so people will know more about the united states founding fathers.

  • erinf-Eic
    12/09/2014 - 10:45 a.m.

    I'm probably not an American citizen if I took that test it would probably rate me an immigrant. I do admit that I know more pop culture than our country's history.

  • madisonl-Eic
    12/09/2014 - 10:45 a.m.

    I think that knowing our presidents isn't a big deal and they don't need to teach it to us. Teachers think that us knowing our presidents is a big deal.

  • TR2001golden
    12/09/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    I think immigrants are more successful on the test than students because they actually study and want to pass the test. Say the test was to get into the country, they wouldn't really study if they didn't care about getting in the U.S.A.

  • AG2001TACO
    12/09/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think immigrants are better prepared because they hve to study for a test all about America and memorize it to become a citizen meanwhile people who are born here don't need to take it and don't have that studying knowlage.

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