LPS superintendent discusses law requiring students to pass citizenship test to graduate

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 4:17 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - After a bill requiring every student to pass the US citizenship test in order to graduate was signed into law, the Lawton Public Schools superintendent says districts now have to find their own ways to fund and administer the tests.

Superintendent Kevin Hime said he doesn’t have a problem with the idea of the law, as much of the stuff in the citizenship test is already being taught at LPS. But he does feel there are issues with it, mainly with the fact that our lawmakers are forcing the districts to figure out funding and implementation of the test on their own.

“They didn’t add any funding so we’re going to have to administer this test, we’re going to have to take some of our resources that are already limited to fund the administration of it. Another unfunded mandate is the best way of putting it. We’ve tried hard to stay away from those and we’ve worked hard with our legislators to not have unfunded mandates the last few years but for some reason, this idea was popular enough that they felt putting another mandate on schools without funding it was OK,” Hime said.

Hime said they’ll also have to figure out the logistics of actually administering the test.

“It’s going to take some instructional time as far as the administrating of the test, we didn’t have that discussion, someone is going to have to monitor and keep up with who passed it, who didn’t pass it. Retaking it, scheduling times for those who don’t. I just think it’s yet again another test we’re preparing kids to pass and not preparing them to be life ready,” Hime said.

Hime said he doesn’t completely disagree with the idea behind the new law but thinks there could have been more discussion around it before it was finalized.

“We did the same thing with financial literacy a few years ago and has it worked, maybe, is this going to make us better citizens, maybe. I’m not opposed to change I just want to make sure we know why we’re changing and make sure the disadvantages don’t outweigh the advantages. I’m not going to sit there and say there’s not some sound reasoning for why we would do this but there’s also some things we need to have that discussion why we wouldn’t do it,” Hime said.

The law officially goes into effect for the 2022 – 2023 school year. Hime suggested the idea of giving the test to students for a few years to see how things go before directly tying it to graduation. But he doesn’t expect the new law to negatively impact graduation rates. Districts will be able to offer the test to students at least once per year and students will be able to retake it until they pass. Hime believes they’ll be able to get students to pass the test but worries this format will cause students to simply study to pass another standardized test, rather than to actually learn the information for their futures.

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