North Dakota Civics Requirement for Graduation

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On January 30, 2015, Governor Dalrymple signed into law, House Bill 1087,relating to the demonstration of proficiency in Civics as a condition of North Dakota high school graduation. The intent of the bill is to ensure that North Dakota students are knowledgeable citizens. Superintendent Baesler stated, “The next generations of North Dakotans need to know about the foundations of our republic. We need to make sure these traditions last forever. Our veterans fought and died for hundreds of years to preserve these traditions. It is our sacred duty to teach these traditions to our children.”
The Department of Public Instruction emphasizes that school districts have maximum flexibility in meeting the Civics test requirement. This bill provides answers to questions you may have. However, to support high school principals, counselors, and students, the following Q & A provides additional answers:
  1. Definition of ‘Civics test’?
  • “Civics test” means the one hundred questions that, as of January 1, 2015, officers of the United States citizenship and immigration services use as the basis for selecting the questions posed to applicants for naturalization, in order that the applicants can demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of United States history and the principles and form of United States government as required by 8 U.S.C 1423.
  1. Who is required to take the Civics test(s)?
  • The requirements set forth in this section applies to each student who is:
    • Enrolled in a public school district;
    • Enrolled in a nonpublic school;
    • Enrolled in the center for distance education;
    • Receiving home education if the student is to be issued a high school diploma in accordance with subsection 1 of section 15.1-23-17; or
    • Pursuing a general equivalency diploma.
  1. May a student be exempted from the Civics test requirement?
  • A student may be exempted from the requirement of this section by the provisions of the student’s individualized education program plan.
  1. When does the Civics test requirement begin?
  • Any student who graduates from high school during or after the 2016-2017 school year is required to take and pass the test.
  1. Where is the Civics test located?
  1. Where are resources for administrators of the Civics test located, including the answers to the Civics test template?
  1. Can the test be divided up into separate parts or sections; taken at different times; in different courses; or grade levels?
  • Yes. The test can be divided into parts and school districts will identify how the test(s) are administered. A student may take the test, in whole or in part, at any time after enrolling in grade seven and may repeat the test or any portion thereof, as often as necessary to demonstrate proficiency.
  1. What is the timeframe of when the test is to be taken? When does the test have to be passed?
  • The test(s) may be administered any time after a student is enrolled in grade seven. It is not recommended that a district waits until the day of graduation to administer the test. A student may repeat the test or any portion thereof, as often as necessary to demonstrate proficiency.
  1. What is the grade or score that a student must receive in order to pass the test? No credit can be given or associated with the Civics test.
  • For graduates of 2017, 60% of the questions on the Civics test must be passed. After 2017, 70% of the questions on the Civics test must be passed.
  1. What if a student does not pass?
  • A student who does not pass the test is not eligible to graduate.
  1. What is the process for administering the test?
  • It is at the discretion of the district to develop the process for administering the test(s).
  1. Is a student allowed to retake the test(s)?
  • Yes, a student may retake the test as often as necessary in order to demonstrate proficiency.
  1. Are there any fees or charges in connection with the Civics test?
  • No. Neither the superintendent of Public Instruction nor a school district may impose or collect any fees or charges in connection with the test.
  1. How will districts be monitored for administering the Civics test(s)?
  • Through the North Dakota Assurances that each school district reports annually under assurance #7: The institution certifies that they are in compliance with all requirements outlined for schools in NDCC 15.1-06-06.
  1. Will districts be expected to collect data or track student data?
  • There is no state reporting required in the law. When a student meets the Civics test requirement, the school should enter the date the student completed the Civics test on the student’s transcript. It is at the discretion of the district to develop any further or additional processes for accountability.
  1. Who do I contact if I have a question about recording the Civics test course code or completion date in PowerSchool?
  • North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has posted on its website, “Guidance for Documenting the Completion of the Civics Test” for PowerSchool admin users and other electronic Student Information System users. If you still need assistance, contact the EduTech Help Desk at 1-800-774-1091 or email to
  1. There is a Civics Course Code, 20069-ND Civics Test, with no credit attached. How is that course code used?
  • It is at the discretion of the district to determine if and how they use the course code.
*In preparation for the Civics test, you may want to use the following book as a primary resource: Voices of Freedom: English and Civics for U.S. Citizenship 4th Edition (includes CD)
Author: Bill Bliss

Contact Jim Upgren, Assistant Director at (701) 328-2244 for additional information on the North Dakota Civics test.