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Florida to debut high school civics test

The exam will be voluntary to start, and it won’t count toward graduation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a huge proponent of increased civics education, called in December for all Florida high school students to sit for a 100-question exam that looks a lot like what immigrants must pass to become U.S. citizens.

On Friday, the state Department of Education took steps to start the ball rolling.

In a memo to school district superintendents, K-12 Chancellor Jacob Oliva announced that the test will be available in the spring for schools to pilot on a voluntary basis.

“Pilot exam results will not affect graduation requirements or school accountability,” Oliva wrote. “The department will report on which districts and schools participate in the pilot, and on student participation and pass rates.”

Although not required at this point, the department is encouraging students taking U.S. government or economics courses to take the test. That would cover most seniors in the state, the department indicated.

The department would provide the exam to the districts, and allow them to offer it either via computer or paper. The test would take 100 minutes, and could be spread over two sessions.

“However, all students should be tested on the same number of items at the same time to help mitigate test security concerns,” Oliva wrote. “The test may be scheduled at any time before the end of the school year and does not need to coincide with other statewide testing this spring.”

DeSantis eventually wants all high school students to take the exam, for which a passing score could be used to indicate they met the state’s 2017 college-level civic literacy requirement. The State Board of Education is expected to consider a rule relating to the high school test later this year.