School administrators are praising a soon-to-be law that would provide alternative pathways to high school graduation other than scoring proficient on the Keystone Exams.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday that he would sign Senate Bill 1095 within the next few days.
Introduced in April by Republican state Sen. Thomas McGarrigle, the bill has garnered bipartisan support, including that of co-sponsor Ryan Aument, a Republican state senator from Landisville, and local educators.
“This works for all learners,” Eastern Lancaster County Superintendent Robert Hollister said. “This is a victory for students and our economy.”
Penn Manor Superintendent Mike Leichliter hailed the “commonsense” measure as considering the “whole child” rather than just a student’s test-taking ability.
“In this era ... I think it makes a lot more sense for students and schools,” he said.
So what does this mean for students? Here’s what you need to know about what’s to come.
Will students still take Keystone Exams?
Yes, but they won’t need to demonstrate proficiency in order to graduate.
What are the pathways students can take to graduation?
— A student meets or exceeds a state-specified composite score across the Keystone Exams in algebra, biology and literature, and demonstrates at least one proficient score and two basic.
— A student meets or exceeds locally established grade requirements in the areas covered by the Keystone Exams, and successfully completes one of the following: Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams; an alternative assessment such as the SAT, ACT or ASVAB; a pre-apprenticeship program, a dual-enrollment or postsecondary course, acceptance to a four-year nonprofit college, or the ACT WorkKeys Certificate.
— A student meets or exceeds grade requirements covered by Keystone Exams and presents at least three pieces from the student’s portfolio that provides evidence that reflects the student’s readiness for graduation.
What does this mean for career and technical education students?
The Keystone Exam graduation requirement for students enrolled in CTE programs was eliminated in June, when the governor signed House Bill 202 into law.
Wasn’t the Keystone Exam graduation requirement already eliminated?
No, it was simply postponed — twice. Legislation passed in 2016 delayed the requirement for all students until the 2019-20 school year. This year's school code legislation extended the moratorium to 2020-21. This bill delays it another year.
When does this take effect?
The new rules would follow current high school freshmen and go into effect after the moratorium in 2021-22.