1. News
  2. /
  3. Gradebook

Florida to debut high school civics test

The exam will be voluntary to start, and it won’t count toward graduation.
Gov. Ron DeSantis wants all high school students to take a civics exam before graduation. The state will roll out a version of the test in spring 2020.
Gov. Ron DeSantis wants all high school students to take a civics exam before graduation. The state will roll out a version of the test in spring 2020.
Published Jan. 31

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.


  1. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  2. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  3. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  4. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.
  5. FILE - In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., after a shooter opened fire on the campus. School districts continue to improve their security plans in the aftermath. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, File)
  6. Clay County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis (wearing a pink tie), center, takes photos with the  Hillsborough County Public Schools board members after being voted unaminous as the new incoming superintendent in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
  7. University of Florida students walk through Turlington Plaza in between classes on Thursday afternoon, February 13, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla.
  8. Chikara Parks, right, along with her children in front of their home in St. Petersburg. In the back is Kamijah Laswon, 14. In front of Kamijah is her sister Tanijah Clark, 12. Their brothers are 7-year-old Tai'jon Carter, left, and Dai'quan Carbart, 9. The four children used to attend Pinellas public schools. Now they are in private schools, using Florida's tax credit scholarship program. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Florida Board of Education member Michael Olenick speaks during a July 17, 2019, board meeting in Polk County. [The Florida Channel]
  10. A new house under construction in Waterset on Big Bend Road in Hillsborough County's Apollo Beach area. Developed by Newland Communities, which also developed Fishhawk Ranch  in Hillsborough, Waterset has had more housing starts in the past year than any other new-home community in the Tampa Bay area. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times]
  11. Janiyah, left, and Stephanie Davis of Philadelphia, stand as they are recognized by President Donald Trump during his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  12. School buses line the parking lot of the Hernando County Schools Transportation Center earlier this month. Detailed bus route information is expected to be available July 31, and can be found on the district website, (select "District," then "Transportation". [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]