Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed the first bill of his administration Thursday night: a fast-tracked House bill that would make passage of a civics test a requirement for high school graduation. HB 2064  requires students get at least 60 out of 100 questions right on a test that mirrors the same test immigrants undergoing naturalization take.

Questions would include naming the President and identifying the three branches of government. Chandler Republican Steve Yarbrough, the Senate bill’s sponsor, says knowledge of government has definite value and so, should be a measure of a student’s worthiness to graduate from high school. 

But opponents say the proposals amount to an unfunded mandate that can bog down teachers and eat up valuable classroom time. Others love the bill’s concept, but are concerned about the logistics. Still others argue the legislation ignores the real problem with education: the failure on the state’s part to act on a court order to infuse 330-million dollars back into the education system so, advocates say, schools are legally funded.

Governor Ducey’s signing of the bill makes Arizona the first state in the nation to require students pass the civics test for graduation. It’s part a nationwide movement to enact similar legislation in all 50 states. For Arizona, the new requirements take effect with the 2016-17 school year.

–Barbara Villa