Carter County Schools to incorporate new civics test for high school seniors as part of new state law

Carter County Schools are preparing for a new state requirement for its high school seniors. It is no longer enough to make the regular grades needed to pass the classes. Now graduates need to demonstrate they understand how the U.S. government works at its basic levels and how it affects their daily lives.

Secondary Supervisor Danny McClain of Carter County Schools said the new state law went into effect July 1.

“We have to create a 50-question test based on the citizenship and naturalization test,” McClain said.

This test is the same test those looking to become American citizens take, and those who take it must make at least a 70 percent grade on it in order to graduate.

“We learned about it roughly a month ago,” he said. “It will most likely go into the U.S. government classes.”

Though McClain said officials have not yet had the time to sit down and plan out the specific details of how the test will fit into the current curriculum, he said he did not anticipate any major difficulties in incorporating the new requirement, in part because Carter County Schools already require a civics test of their own.

Prior to the new law, this test was only necessary to attend; the score did not impact the graduate’s eligibility.

Further, the test schools need to pull the questions from has 100 questions in it, but schools only have to pull 50 of them.

According to the state legislature’s website, the test needs “at least 29 questions on American government, 16 questions on American history, and seven questions on integrated civics.”

However, beyond the category requirements, the specifics are in the schools’ hands.

“It does not mandate specific questions,” McClain said. “We will talk with surrounding school districts as we look at which questions to use.”

He said he did not have many concerns about having to rearrange anything about the county’s current system or any additional cost to the schools.

“We already teach U.S. Government,” he said. “The majority of those questions are already in our curriculum.”

For more information, go to capitol.tn.gov and search HB 1016 or SB 1243.

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