PHOENIX — In 2015, Arizona became the first state in the nation to pass the American Civics Act, requiring high school students to pass the citizenship test before graduation. Since then, 34 other states have followed suit.
In his State of the State Address today, Governor Ducey called for new efforts to build on Arizona’s leadership in civics education.
In calling to expand the opportunity of Arizona students to take the citizenship test, Governor Ducey said:
Already, our high school students must pass the citizenship test before graduation. I’m proposing we expect more, start them even earlier, and give our middle schoolers the chance to complete this exam. Because there is more to learn.
This legislation will allow middle schools to offer the test, as well as increase the passing score to 70 percent.
Governor Ducey also called for dedicating one day a year as Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Celebration Day, a day in which classroom instruction would be devoted entirely to civics. During the speech, he said:
We are blessed to have one Arizonan who’s the ideal of this aspirational creed. Her life is a living civics lesson-- and Arizona is fortunate to be home to the Institute that bears her name. I’m talking about Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Who better to hold as a model for the next generation?
This legislation will designate September 25 as “Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Celebration Day.” Schools will be required to focus on civics instruction, aligned with civics standards for the individual grade levels.
Upon signing the American Civics Act in 2015, the first bill Governor Ducey signed into law, he referred to what Justice O’Connor has called "the quiet crisis in education," emphasizing the need for children to be properly educated about the history and founding principles of our nation.