Colorado students will have to pass a civics test to graduate from high school under a bill that advanced in the state Senate Tuesday.

Ninth graders would take the civics portion of the U.S. citizenship exam – and if they don’t pass, they could try again in succeeding years. 

"It is a simple literacy in civics," said Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg. "It is a basic tool that every citizen needs as an adult."

Opponents said the state already requires students to complete a civics class and that the test relies simply on rote memorization. 

Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, reminded lawmakers they spent much of last year’s session cutting back on the number of standardized tests.

"I would say to the good senator who is bringing this bill, this flies in the face of all the good work we did last year," Heath said.

The bill has one more vote before moving to the House.