SALT LAKE CITY - What should Utah high school graduates be required to know before graduating?
That is what state lawmakers are discussing Monday at the Capitol.
It would be the same test new U.S. citizens are required to pass.
Students would study 100 basic facts about America and would be tested on 50 of them.
The test would ask questions like, "How many amendments are in the U.S. Constitution?" and "How often are Senators elected?"
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Howard Stephenson, points to public opinion surveys showing a third of Americans don’t know the three branches of government or the vice president.
He said Utah students are learning the basic principles of government but they're not retaining the information.
Stephenson argued that without this knowledge of who we are as a nation, young people are less inclined to get out and vote.
He said students could take the test as many times as they need until they pass it.
However, some lawmakers were concerned about adding another test to a teacher’s workload.
Those who oppose the bill said they didn’t feel comfortable with lawmakers dictating what should be taught in schools.
“Many teachers have written to me say, ‘I teach this in my government class; I require it as part of the grade,’” Rep. Carol Spackman Moss said. “I test on this and it does seem to be a problem in my mind as to who should be doing the requiring and who should be determining curriculum.”
“I hope that no teacher teaches to this test,” Sen. Stephenson said. “These students should be learning these basic flash card facts on their own to pass this test; I don't want it to be part of the curriculum.”
Despite some reservations, the House Committee unanimously passed the bill Monday.
The Senate has already approved the proposal.
Now the House will have a chance to weigh in.
If bill becomes law, it would apply to next year’s graduating class.