New law makes civics proficiency a requirement for high school graduates

New law makes civics proficiency a requirement for high school graduates

PROVIDENCE – Civics proficiency will be a requirement for all Rhode Island public high school graduates under a new law that was sponsored by state Sen. Hanna M. Gallo and state Rep. Brian C. Newberry.

The legislation (2021-S 0076Aaa, 2021-H 5028Aaa), which has been passed by the General Assembly and signed into law, is aimed at ensuring that all students understand the principles of democracy, how their government works, and the rights and duties of actively engaged citizenship.

The new law requires that all high school students attending public school demonstrate proficiency in civics, commencing with the graduating class of 2023. The law does not necessarily require that students take a separate civics course or civics exam, instead allowing individual school districts to determine how their students can demonstrate proficiency.

Many aspects of civics are already integrated into other subjects’ curricula.

The legislation also requires that students complete at least one student-led civics project in middle or high school.

The project could be individual, group or classwide, and would be designed to promote the student’s ability to reason, make logical arguments and support claims using valid evidence; and demonstrate an understanding of the connections between federal, state and local policies, including issues that may impact the student’s community.