It was a test – only a test, but a test that could have mattered. I’ve taught science for many years, perhaps to the detriment of my knowledge of social studies including geography, history, and you guessed it, civics. When we started a day of staff development and meeting with the New Required for Graduation Civics Test, I worried. What if I didn’t do well? What if my teacher self couldn’t handle a test we’ll administer to all high school freshmen starting this year?
I passed. Heck, I more than passed. Out of 100 multiple choice questions, I got 99 right. Maybe I haven’t taught a lot of United States history and government units, but I’m politically active and reasonably well informed. I read (and write for) The Broad Side. I contribute to, among others, Emily’s List.
I passed the test and discussed a few discrepancies with the teacher sitting next to me. We looked at the question asking us to identify the Speaker of the House, and asked “Isn’t the new guy (Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan) getting sworn in today?” The question asking the students to identify their Representative in Congress will need to be open ended; our virtual school students live all over the state of Wisconsin. We also identified a few poorly worded questions that, while far from being par for the course, really needed updating.
What did I get wrong? I thought I could avoid answering that. Deep sigh. Oh, all right. I did not identify James Madison as an author of The Federalist Papers, a collection of essays that supported the ratification of the Constitution.
Readers (and voters), could you pass a 100 question civics test? What do you think?