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Frequently Asked Questions about Act 55/Civics Test Graduation Requirement

General Questions

Where do I find this test?

  • The test can be found online at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.  The law requires that students take a 100 question test identical to the test found at that link, and get at least 60* of the 100 questions correct in order to graduate.   *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).

When am I supposed to give the test?/Can I give it in 9th/10th/11th grade at the end of our ___ class?/Do they have to wait until they are seniors to take the test?

  • It is 100% up to the school and district to determine where the test best fits into their curriculum.  

Can students retake the test if they don't pass the first time?

  • Yes.          

Can a parent "opt out" of the civics test requirement?

  • The civics test requirement is a graduation requirement set by the Wisconsin legislature in 2015. It is not a statewide assessment, and, therefore, parents do not have the ability to "opt out." However, if the student has an IEP, the IEP team may decide the assessment is not appropriate and may decide the student does not have to participate in the assessment.

What about our students with limited English proficiency?

  • The law states students may take the test in their language of choice.  The US CIS site has a Spanish version of the test, and has resources in other languages, as well, including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.  

How are we supposed to mark which students pass?

  • It is completely up to districts to determine how they will identify students who have passed, or not.  

What resources are available for us?

  • There are many teacher resources on the USCIS website, which may be of assistance in your planning and implementation. 

We have a foreign exchange student as a 12th grader.  Do they have to pass the requirement?

  • If a foreign exchange student is receiving a diploma from your district (as in, they return to their home country and do not have to return to high school), they must pass the civics graduation requirement.  If they are receiving a certificate of completion or thanks, but still must return to their home country to finish high school and earn a diploma, they do not have to pass the civics graduation requirement.  

Special Education Questions

What are the requirements for the civics exam for students with an IEP?

  • In general, federal and state law says that students with disabilities must be included in district-wide assessments.
  • 118.33 (1m) (a) is the statute governing the civics test graduation requirement.  The law states that a student with an IEP must complete the civics test, but does not have to pass it in order to graduate.  
  • Changes in state statute 118.33 (1m) (a) in March 2016 through 2015 WI Act 212 state that a student’s IEP (or services plan) team may determine if it is not appropriate to administer the civics test.  IEP teams should take into consideration the nature of the individual student’s disability when making this determination.
  • If the IEP (or services plan) team believe that the civics test is not appropriate for the student, this must be documented on DPI sample form I-7 District Wide Assessments.  
  • If the IEP (or services plan) team decides that the students must complete the civics test graduation requirement (the student must complete the test but does not have to reach the 60*/100 correct in order to meet the requirement), the district will record the student’s score and participation in the same manner they would record scores and participation for all students.  *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).

Can a student with an IEP use accommodations on the civics test? If so, where should accommodations be documented?

  • Yes, a student with an IEP may use accommodations approved by their IEP team. Accommodation policies for the test are determined by the district and should be consistent with the students day-to-day instruction.
  • Although the civics exam is required by state law it is located in the requirements for high school graduation with the responsibility at the district level. Therefore, it is considered a district-wide assessment. If the IEP team believes a student should be provided with accommodations on the civics exam, they should be documented on DPI sample form I-7 District Wide Assessments.

How does the district record a student with a significant cognitive disability's participation in the civics test?

  • If the IEP (or services plan) team determines that a student with significant cognitive disability does not have to complete the civics test graduation requirement, the district will record the student with a significant cognitive disability’s score and participation in the same way they record scores and participation for all students.

DPI Contacts

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  • For questions about the information on General Education, contact Kris McDaniel (608) 266-2207.
  • For questions about the information on Alternative Assessments for Students with Disabilities, contact Kristen Burton (608) 267-3164.
  • For questions about the information on Special Education student assessments, contact the Special Education Team (608) 266-1781.