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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 24, 2021 01:38 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Civics Education Curriculum Requirement
I plan to introduce legislation similar to prior HB 564, PN589 (2017 Session) that requires students to take and receive a passing score of at least 70% on a civics test developed by the school entity or the civics test produced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as a condition of high school graduation. Students will be allowed to take the test as many times as is necessary to attain a passing grade. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ test questions, study guides and practice tests are all free and accessible on their website at www.uscis.gov.

During the 2017-2018 Legislative Session, prior HB 564 (Act 35 of 2017) was amended and signed by the Governor to require a school entity to administer their own locally developed civics test, at least once, to students during grades 7-12. The U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services exam can be used to satisfy this requirement or be used as a guideline. There is currently no requirement for students to receive a passing grade.

The alarming decline in civics knowledge among young Americans is the catalyst for this new legislation, as it was for Act 35. This lack of knowledge is evidenced in a 2019 survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, which showed that only 39% of adults were able to identify at least one of the three branches of the U.S. government.

Considering the events of this past election cycle and the critical importance of free and fair elections to our democratic process, I believe it is essential to build upon Act 35. Therefore, I plan to introduce legislation that requires students to take a civics test and receive a score of at least 70%. In addition, school entities will be required to develop, as part of their curriculums, lesson plans dedicated to teaching of the importance and workings of the election process as it pertains to local, state, and federal elections.

It is my hope to ensure that students have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of civics and government in order to prepare and encourage them to be responsibly engaged citizens, and we believe that this legislation is an important and necessary step towards achieving this objective.

Please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB1145