About 100 educators and community leaders rose to their feet and applauded Governor DeSantis as he entered the North Collier Regional Park's community center in Naples Tuesday afternoon.
DeSantis told the group he has seen surveys showing less than 25 percent of young people are capable of answering basic questions about American government and civics.
DeSantis said he wants Florida schools to make sure students are better informed.
“I’m going to direct Commissioner Cochran to require all high school seniors in Florida to take a civics exam similar to the citizenship exam taken by our naturalized citizens,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis said he wants to do a soft roll out of the exam at the end of this school year, but he hopes to have all school districts testing their seniors by the end of the next academic year.
"My main goal with this is just to see, 'OK, what more do we need to do?' And then make sure folks have a good foundation moving forward," DeSantis said.
While DeSantis said the exam will initially help to gauge the understanding of civics students have, it could eventually be tied to graduation requirements.
DeSantis said understanding how government works is essential to ensuring the American republic survives.
"There’s a lot of benefits that come from being an American citizen, a lot of benefits of having a constitution that protects your rights," Desantis said. "But there are duties and responsibilities that flow from that and I think understanding those core principles are very, very important."