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Arizona Law to Require High School Students to take Citizenship Exam



For VOA Learning English, this is the Education Report.

A new law in Arizona requires high school students to pass the United States’ naturalization test. Immigrants to the United States must pass this test to become a citizen. It contains 100 questions on U.S. history and government.

The Joe Foss Institute, a non-profit organization in Arizona, worked with legislators to create the law. Their goal is to pass a law in each of the 50 states to require high school students to pass the naturalization test. A 2010 national test showed only about 25 percent of students in their final year of high school had a good understanding of American democracy. Thirty-six percent did not even have a basic understanding.

John Hale is with Center for Civic Education in California. He thinks it is dangerous when citizens do not know or care about how their government works. Mr. Hale says students do not only need to learn facts about government. They should also learn how to participate in their local communities. But some wonder if a test young people take in high school will make adults more active in their communities. Sam Stone writes for the Civics Education Initiative. It is part of the Joe Foss Institute, which helped create the Arizona law.

Mr. Stone says research shows that civic education does result in more involved adults. He noted a 2012 survey that found the more young people studied civics and current events in high school, the more likely they were to vote and understand politics. Mr. Stone says his organization is paying for an online testing website. Schools can use the website to give the naturalization test for free.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.