Kortz bill requiring school civics test heads to governor’s desk

HARRISBURG, June 7 – A bill that would require Pennsylvania schools to test students on their competency in civics, government and U.S. history is heading to the governor’s desk after the House yesterday passed a final version, according to the bill’s co-prime sponsor, Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny.

“The test that schools would administer would be the same or similar to the test immigrants must take to become U.S. citizens,” Kortz said. “If we’re requiring new citizens to learn fundamental concepts about how our democracy works, then our students should have the same basic knowledge upon graduation.

“The ultimate goal of the bill is to ensure that our graduating students have a basic knowledge of our constitutional democracy so that they can become engaged citizens in our great nation. We can’t expect kids to grow into informed, responsible citizens and leaders if we don’t teach them about how our government works.”

House Bill 564 would require schools to administer either a locally developed civics assessment – or they can use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services test or parts thereof – at least once to all students between grades seven and 12. Ultimately, the local school districts would decide the final version of the test. Students who obtain a perfect grade would receive a certificate of recognition from the state Department of Education. The certificate would not be a requirement of graduation.

The bill would also require the department to post links on its website to the U.S. Citizenship test and to conduct an electronic survey of each school entity at the end of the 2020-21 school year, and every two years after.