Students will be tested on U.S. citizenship studies before graduating from high school as part of new changes introduced on Dec. 10.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has instructed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran to encourage all high school seniors to take a voluntary test in civics as part of their history studies.
The civics exam will include similar content to tests immigrants have to take before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, according to the Naples Daily News.
“A primary objective in the state of Florida for education has to be to prepare our students for citizenship,” DeSantis said according to the paper. “You may need some skills you learned in school, you may not need others but, no matter what you do, you are going to be required to exercise the duties of citizenship.”
The test is expected to be trialed this school year and, depending on the outcome, it could be formally introduced in the upcoming school year. DeSantis also hopes to expand the civics education curriculum even further to encourage more teenagers to understand how local communities work.
The proposal has attracted bipartisan support.
“It is often said that democracy is not a spectator sport, and for a democracy to continue to function well, it requires citizens to be effective in the skills of citizenship,” Rep. Ben Diamond (D-Fla.) said according to the Tampa Bay Times. “This bill is part of an important, continuing and bipartisan effort … to ensure our students are learning the skill of citizenship.”
The practicum program is promised to provide a valuable perspective that conventional teaching and assessment cannot.
“The best way that students can learn is by doing,” Diamond said.
Rep. Susan Valdes (D-Fla.) confirmed some teenagers in her electorate joined teachers in learning how to amend legislation and even presented a bill to the Senate Education Committee.
She believes more students will benefit from identifying and addressing different issues in the community with the help of elected representatives.
“I believe this bill is a great idea,” Valdes said according to the Bay Times. “It is their world that we are shaping.”
However, Rep. Jason Fischer (R-Fla.) warns against using any wording that might have any unintended consequences. Namely, the practicum program should never be used to teach unAmerican opinions or material under the false pretenses of addressing a civic matter of concern.
“I’m always concerns about what the content ends up being,” Fischer said.