Green Country students, teachers react to new citizenship test requirement for graduates

TULSA, Okla. — A new law requiring Oklahoma high school students to pass the test required to become a U.S. citizen in order to graduate has split opinions from state legislators.

Questions on the current naturalization test include, “What is the form of government of the United States?” and “how many senators does each state have?”

You can find the test questions here.

What do lawmakers think of the new requirement?

Republican Representative Terry O’Donnell authored the bill and says it’s needed given recent nationwide unrest.

“It just seems like people today don’t really understand our democracy,” O’Donnell told FOX23.

O’Donnell says this test can help counteract our state’s low voter turnout. According to electproject.org, Oklahoma had the lowest turnout nationwide in the November 2020 general election with just 55%.

“If you learn about our democracy and you learn how the system works, you’ll have an appreciation for it and you’ll probably be better informed and better engaged,” said O’Donnell.

Democratic representative and former teacher Mickey Dollens, however, says he feels differently.

“The last thing that teachers and students need are more state-mandated tests.”

He agrees with O’Donnell that educating our students on this topic is important, but not this method.

“We have a curriculum for that, if we can improve the curriculum, I’m all for it.”

Dollens says funding for this new test is not yet solidified. O’Donnell says free, online testing resources are abundant.

Some Green Country students, teachers skeptical over test requirement

Green Country teachers and students aren’t all sold on the new law.

Randall Briggs is a history teacher at Bixby High School and says he thinks the test could be beneficial.

“I think that it is important and maybe now, more than say 10 years ago, to understand what our rights are as citizens, what our responsibilities are,” Briggs told FOX23.

Briggs says his concern lies in how the test will fit into what he calls an already packed curriculum, and adding on more testing would mean students gain less in the classroom.

“We already feel like we have a lot of stuff mandated to us from the state,” he says.

“Any kind of test you’re taking time out from class.”

His student, BHS senior and valedictorian Maximus DeVore says he agrees the idea behind implementing the test is a good one but the thought of cramming for another exam would seriously impact students’ quality of life.

“That’s taking time out of the time I can spend with my family, the time I can go spend with friends before we leave our separate ways, so making sure that it’s done properly and in a way that yes we learn, yes we pass it, yes we can know what is required of us to be a citizen, but taking the stress off of it, is the key factor to this,” DeVore says.

The public information officer at BPS told FOX23 there are three tests currently required for high school students to take, but not pass in Oklahoma; the SAT or ACT, a science exam and a U.S. history exam.

Democratic State Representative Mickey Dollens says a new bill is looking into getting rid of that history exam. Briggs and DeVore say replacing the exam with the citizenship test would be an ideal way to avoid additional testing.