Changes to the Civics Graduation Requirement from WI Act 59 (WI State Budget 2017-19)
As part of 2017 Wisconsin Act 59, the minimum passing score on the civics test for high school graduation set forth by Wis. Stat. s. 118.33(1m)(a)1. was increased from 60 to 65 out of 100. The way the law currently reads, current students who have not obtained a score of at least 65 are ineligible to receive a high school diploma. This means that students who previously scored between 60 and 64 but have not yet received a diploma will be required to retake the civics test to obtain this new statutory minimum. The DPI does not believe the legislature intended to nullify scores previously considered passing prior to Act 59. Therefore, the DPI will work with the legislature to amend the current language under Wis. Stat. s. 118.33(1m)(a)1. to apply the higher-score requirement under Act 59 to only those students who had not already obtained a passing score prior to September 23, 2017, the effective date of Act 59.
Although we plan to work with the legislature on this, please realize that this is now state law, and if you have students who fall into that 60-64 range, they may need to be retested to meet the requirements of the law.
Civics Graduation Requirement
Any students graduating from a Wisconsin high school (starting with the class of 2017) "takes a civics test comprised of 100 questions that are identical to the 100 questions that may be asked of an individual during the process of applying for U.S. citizenship by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the pupil correctly answers at least 60 of those questions" (Wis. Stat. sec. 118.33(1m)(a)1, Section 3266R).
*Note that WI 2017 Act 59 (WI State Budget 2017-19) changed this requirement to 65 out of 100 questions to pass (Wis. Stat. sec. 118.33(1m)(a)1, Section 3266R).
Main Points of the Statute
There are no state funds to administer this test. DPI is not involved in the procurement, grading, or gathering of test scores for this test. Districts are responsible to give the test, score it, and keep records of student scores/passing.
It is up to the school/district what format to use, and when in the school year to administer the test.
Students, starting with the class of 2017, must correctly answer at least 60* of 100 questions identical to the INS citizenship test in order to graduate from a WI public, charter, or private school participating in a parental choice program. (*Note that WI 2017 Act 59 (WI State Budget 2017-19) changed this requirement to 65 out of 100 questions to pass (Wis. Stat. sec. 118.33(1m)(a)1, Section 3266R).)
IEP teams will determine if the test is appropriate for each individual student with an IEP. For more information, please go to the FAQ page.
Students identified as LEP may take the test in their language of choice.
Transcripts should indicate students "passed" the civics test requirement.
- Citizenship Test at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services
- USCIS questions and answers for the US Citizenship Test
- USCIS Teacher resources
- USCIS Resources in other languages
- Frequently Asked Questions from DPI
- A joint project between Madison Metropolitan School District and the Wisconsin Educational Service Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing-the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and Outreach to support Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in Wisconsin provides the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration test in American Sign Language. For more information, contact Connie Gartner at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf.