Governor Ceremonially Signs O’Donnell’s Citizenship Test Bill
Mike Seals - August 8, 2021 11:31 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor on Wednesday ceremonially signed a bill by House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, that will help ensure Oklahoma high school graduates are more informed citizens.
House Bill 2030 requires high school students to pass the U.S. Civics Test before graduation beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The test is the same one administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that is required of anyone desiring to become a U.S. citizen. Fourteen other states have adopted similar legislation.
“We must have an informed and engaged citizenry if we hope to continue to have a free and prosperous country,” O’Donnell said. “To ensure this, it only makes sense that we require students graduating from our public schools to know certain facts about how their government functions and about our nation’s founding.”
O’Donnell said much of the unrest and division in the nation today exists because people don’t have an accurate understanding of what is in the United States Constitution – the foundation for all laws in the country. Many also don’t have an accurate grasp of the nation’s founding, he said.
HB 2030 requires subject matter standards for history, social studies, and U.S. Government courses in Oklahoma public schools to include the study of important historical documents, including the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, Federalist Papers and other documents of historical national significance. Subject matter standards for U.S. Government also must include emphasis on the structure and relationship between the national, state, county and local governments and simulations of the democratic process.
Under the legislation, the graduation requirement will apply to students entering ninth grade beginning this school year, but they will have until the 2022-23 school year to pass the test. School districts shall offer the test to students at least once per school year, beginning as early as eighth grade at the discretion of the district. Any student may retake the exam upon request, and as often as desired, until earning a passing score of 60 out of 100 questions. Students with disabilities that have an individualized education plan (IEP) will be exempted.
HB 2030 was formally signed into law in April. Ceremonial bill signings are held to allow lawmakers and those influential in helping to draft the legislation or those most affected by it to attend.