Carson high school students acing civics test

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Carson City School District showed a 98% pass rate among public high school students who took the 2022-23 government civics test matching the U.S. Naturalization Civics Test, according to Brittany Witter, coordinator for Humanities Curriculum Assessment.

The exam is required of each public high school student according to Nevada Senate Bill 322 as sponsored by Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, from the state’s 79th session in 2017. The test mimics the civics portion of the naturalization test adopted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security and is a requirement for high school graduation.

Tests must directly match questions from the actual citizenship test, and students can receive a waiver in special circumstances, such as family or medical emergencies, Witter said. Carson City School District did not receive any waivers during the 2022-23 school year.

Between Carson High and Pioneer Academy this year, there were 516 seniors enrolled and 472 students took the exam, or a 92% participation exam. These figures are increasing over time, from 84% in 2021 and 86% in 2022, with the district seeking a 100% rate, Witter said.

“Our goal would be to get 100%, but if students don’t show up for the last few weeks, it’s hard to track them down,” she said.

To fulfill SB322’s requirements, the Nevada Department of Education authorizes schools to determine the course the exam will be administered, with Carson High choosing government.

Witter said with the civics portion required to be administered in a multiple-choice format, she had received at least a few score sheets from some students who observed it was merely a requirement to participate in the test and filled out all “A’s” and did not pass.

“Credit to them for reading they only had to participate,” she said.

Witter said one group that was overlooked last year were Carson High’s JumpStart students since they take their government courses off campus at Western Nevada College. The JumpStart cohort enrolls in WNC’s Political Science 101 course and weren’t called in to take the civics test during the 2021-22 year. This year, however, all but one of the students came in and took the exam after sending letters home to parents, contacting professors and sending automated messages home through the school district’s ParentSquare platform.


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