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Governor signs civics test into law (copy)

Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs House Bill 1087 into law in January 2015, requiring all North Dakota high school students pass a civics test as a requirement to graduate from high school. Mandan students will have eight opportunities to pass the test. In Bismarck, the test will be offered in the eighth and 11th grades.

Bismarck's public schools will fulfill the new graduation requirement that students pass the civics test given to candidates for U.S. citizenship by offering the exam to high school juniors and eighth-graders in the spring.

Students who do not pass the 100-question test will be given additional opportunities to take it, said Ryan Townsend, director of curriculum, instruction, assessment and teacher development for Bismarck Public Schools.

The graduation requirement takes effect during the 2016-17 school year and requires that students answer at least 60 questions correctly. In subsequent years, students must correctly answer 70 questions.

Townsend said eighth-graders study U.S. and North Dakota history, and high school juniors study U.S. history.

"We felt like those were two grade levels where that content was pretty well covered," he said.

School district leaders and teacher representatives from Bismarck's middle and high schools have met several times to discuss implementing the new graduation requirement.

They have not yet set dates for the test, though Townsend said juniors will take it before eighth-graders.

In future years, the test will be offered only to Bismarck's eighth-grade students, Townsend said. Those who fail to pass it the first time will be given additional instruction and will schedule a time to take it again, likely during a study period.

School districts throughout the state are making plans to implement the new graduation requirement established in January 2015 when Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed House Bill 1087 into law.

Mandan High School Principal Mark Andresen told his district's school board in December that students will have eight opportunities during their senior year to pass the test.

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(Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8267 or