Secretary of State Michael Adams


FRANKFORT, KY – Secretary of State Michael Adams has released the Secretary of State’s 2023 Civic Health Assessment. The sweeping report looked at how Kentucky fares in three topics: civic knowledge, social civics and polarization. Overall, Kentucky received a C.

“Based off our findings, I am recommending to the General Assembly that we require a civics education course in high school, and require a more robust civics exam to graduate. These changes could not only increase civic participation and literacy, but could also set students up for success in other areas.”


Kentuckians are generally more knowledgeable than the average American on civics. For example, Kentuckians are twice as likely as the average American to be able to name the three branches of government and one of their state legislators. Despite that, the number of Kentuckians that can do so is still inadequate.

The Civic Health Assessment found that just half of Kentuckians surveyed could name the three branches of government and just 49 percent could name a local elected official.

Overall, Kentucky received a C on civic knowledge.

Social Civics

Kentucky is doing poorly when it comes to mixing civics and interpersonal relations. The Civic Health Assessment found that an exceptionally small number of Kentuckians mix the two relationships. This can be detrimental to civic health, as our report found those who interact and discuss civics tended to be the most civically healthy. Conversely, those who form their political views from media (36.5%), were generally less knowledgeable about government, less engaged, and more polarized.

The assessment found that 54 percent of Kentuckians discuss politics with family or friends a few times a week but just 38 percent have contacted a public official in the past year.

A bright spot in this section found that just 19 percent of Kentuckians trust what they read on social media while 45 percent trust local newspapers and 62 percent trust local TV news.

Overall, Kentucky received aD+ on social civics.


Kentucky is faring best when it comes to polarization. Overall, the Bluegrass State is vastly less polarized than the national trend. That is not to say polarization has not reached the Bluegrass – it has, but overall, most Kentuckians tend to be more tolerant of others who have opposing views and are less inclined to self-segregate.

The Civic Health Assessment found that 80 percent of respondents would not be ashamed if their child had opposing political views and 75 percent are fine with having friends with different political views. In addition, 60 percent would be comfortable being in a romantic relationship with someone of opposing political views and 61 percent think it is better for politicians to compromise.

Overall, Kentucky received a B on polarization.


Based on the report, Adams recommends that the General Assembly require an established civics credit be earned in high school. Most states require some form of formal civic instruction in the classroom; Kentucky is one of the few that does not. Current high school graduation requirements only dictate 3 years of social science; adding a 4th year, dedicated to civics instruction, would not only be a logical move, but could have increasable benefits.

Further, Adams believes a more robust civics exam for high school graduates is needed.

You can view the Executive Summary of the report here.

You can view the full Civic Health Assessment here.

Additional infographics can be found at

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