In 2017, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 159 (2017).
The law reads that beginning in July 2018, a student must pass a civics
test composed of 100 questions in order to graduate from a public high
school with a regular diploma. Each local board of education will be
expected to prepare or approve an exam that must be composed of
questions from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
test. Students are required to score 60% or higher and may retake the
exam as many times as deemed necessary to pass the test.
Waiver Suspends Requirement for Civics Test
Interim Commissioner of Education, Kevin C. Brown, issued a waiver on April 3, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Pursuant to the authority granted in EO 2020-243 and with the approval of Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the waiver suspends KRS 158.141, which requires students to pass a 100-question civics test to graduate from a Kentucky public high school, for the 2019-2020 school year.
While most students scheduled to graduate at the end of the current school year have already completed this requirement, a small number of students had not done so prior to Gov. Beshear's recommendation to suspend in-person classes beginning March 16. There is an online option that will satisfy the requirement, but the KDE recognizes that not all students have a computer and internet access. The suspension of this statute removes a barrier to graduation for students who would otherwise graduate this spring.
Civics Test InformationUS Citizenship and Immigration Services Test Items
Critical highlights include:
- Local boards of education and charter school governing bodies may decide how the test is administered and implemented.
- Students must correctly answer at least 60 of the 100 questions on the civics test.
- Students may retake the test as many times as necessary to pass.
- Local boards of education will determine how the passing grade will be documented.
- A student who has passed a similar test within the previous five years is not required to take the test.
- Schools must administer this test in accordance with the
requirements and accommodations of a student's individualized education
program as defined in KRS 158.281 or a Section 504 Plan as defined in
A Civics Test Manual
is available to offer potential guidance to districts in preparation for the administration of the legislatively required exam. This document provides considerations for the administration, implementation, scoring and recording of results on the Civics Test. Additionally, this manual includes two complete 100-question sample versions of the test, both in short answer and multiple choice formats.