North Dakota unveils proposal requiring high school students to pass U.S. citizenship test to graduate

A civics class in an American school circa 1955.

A civics class in an American school circa 1955.  (Getty Images)

How many amendments does the U.S. Constitution have? What were the original 13 states?

High school students in North Dakota may have to answer these questions under a proposal being discussed in the state legislature — they would have to take the same test that immigrants must pass to become a U.S. citizen.

North Dakota's first lady Betsy Dalrymple and state School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler unveiled a proposed bipartisan legislation on Monday that would require every high school students to get a passing grade on the civics exam to graduate.

Initiative spokesman Sam Stone says the goal is to enact similar laws in all states by 2017, when the Constitution turns 230 years old.

He says that eight states, including the Dakotas, are supporting the idea so far.

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Backers say the goal is for North Dakota high school students to learn more about how American government works before they graduate.

North Dakota is among seven states mulling similar bills. Arizona, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah are also considering requiring students to pass the civics test before receiving a high school diploma or general equivalency degree.

"Every single student in Arizona and across the United States of America should have basic knowledge and understanding of American government," Montenegro said during a news conference, according to . "Civics is just common sense."

The proposal is backed by the Arizona-based Joe Foss Institute. Foss is a former South Dakota governor and won the Congressional Medal of Honor during WWII. He died in 2003.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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