MORONI– Eighth-grade students at North Sanpete Middle School (NSMS), instructed by Amber Hill, Kim Markworth, and Tara Syme, are studying the U.S. Constitution in preparation for the civics exam.
In addition to 24 credit hours, Utah high school students must pass a basic civics exam to earn a high school diploma. This is one graduation requirement students can fulfill before they attend their first high school classes.
The basic civics exam was mandated for high school graduation by SB50, American Civics Education Initiative, passed in 2015. Students must pass the test with 70 percent score, or 35 out of 50. Students may take the test as many times as necessary.
Since 2015 the vast majority of eighth graders at North Sanpete Middle School passed the test and completed a high school graduation requirement. Many students first take the test in September, around Constitution Day.
The students have multiple opportunities to take the test throughout the year. After an extensive unit on the U.S. Constitution in January, most students reach their goal of passing with 70 percent or higher.
There are online study guides available for students wishing to get a head start, and additional opportunities for students to take the test in high school.
The test asks basic questions, such as: What are the term limits for federal senators and representatives? What are the powers reserved to the states and the federal government? Why do some states have more representatives than others?
The importance of studying the U.S. Constitution is not new. A Mt. Pleasant newspaper article in The Pyramid, dated Nov. 7, 1919, urges “Teach the Constitution”.
It further states: “There should never be a graduation certificate or a diploma issued to a West Point cadet, a State University student, a high school scholar or a grammar school pupil who has not passed an examination and shown his knowledge of the meaning of the Constitution of the United States and its representative form of government.”
The students at North Sanpete Middle School are working hard to demonstrate their knowledge of the meaning of the Constitution.