In 2016, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law (see below) requiring Minnesota students in public schools to pass a civics test.
- The test consists of 50 out of the 100 questions in the INS Naturalization Test. The 50 questions are selected by Learning Law and Democracy Foundation in consultation with civics teachers.
- Students must pass 30 of the 50 questions. How the test is given is up to local school districts and instructors.
- Passing this test is not required for graduation.
- The law is effective for students enrolling in grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year
Schools or districts determine how to administer the civics test questions and the logistics for recording the results. The results are not reported to the Minnesota Department of Education.
The following are examples of some, but not all, test administration considerations for the school or district.
- The civics test questions—
- may be administered as part of the social studies curriculum;
- may be administered all at once in a single sitting or over a longer time period of several months or years;
- may be administered in timed and/or untimed sessions;
- may be retaken as many times as needed to pass;
- may be administered in oral, written (paper) or online formats; and
- may be presented in various forms such true/false, multiple choice, matching, short answer, and so on.
- may be administered any time after 6th grade
The intent of this exercise is to help establish a foundation for civics education. It is not the destination. Students are still required to master the Social Studies Citizenship and Government standards and benchmarks. (Minn. Stat. § 120B.024, Subd. 1(5)) There is no provision in state law for waivers that allow schools to opt out of the social studies standards and corresponding benchmarks.
Representative Dean Urdahl, author of the legislation
Minnesota Civics Test Questions (Official) (bottom of page)
120B.02 EDUCATIONAL EXPECTATIONS AND GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS FOR MINNESOTA’S STUDENTS.
Subd. 3.Required knowledge and understanding of civics.
(a) For purposes of this subdivision, “civics test questions” means 50 of the 100 questions that, as of January 1, 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services officers use to select the questions they pose to applicants for naturalization so the applicants can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of United States history and government, as required by United States Code, title 8, section 1423. The Learning Law and Democracy Foundation, in consultation with Minnesota civics teachers, must select by July 1 each year 50 of the 100 questions under this paragraph to serve as the state’s civics test questions for the proximate school year and immediately transmit the 50 selected civics test questions to the department and to the Legislative Coordinating Commission, which must post the 50 questions it receives on the Minnesota’s Legacy Web site by August 1 of that year.
(b) A student enrolled in a public school must correctly answer at least 30 of the 50 civics test questions. A school or district may record on a student’s transcript that the student answered at least 30 of 50 civics test questions correctly. A school or district may exempt a student with disabilities from this requirement if the student’s individualized education program team determines the requirement is inappropriate and establishes an alternative requirement. A school or district may administer the civics test questions in a language other than English to students who qualify for English learner services.
(c) Schools and districts may administer civics test questions as part of the social studies curriculum. A district must not prevent a student from graduating or deny a student a high school diploma for failing to correctly answer at least 30 of 50 civics test questions.
(d) The commissioner and public schools and school districts must not charge students any fees related to this subdivision.
NOTE: Subdivision 3, as added by Laws 2016, chapter 189, article 25, section 3, is effective for students enrolling in grade 9 in the 2017-2018 school year or later. Laws 2016, chapter 189, article 25, section 3, the effective date.