Pennsylvania changing high school graduation requirements
Academic standards and high school graduation requirements are changing this year to better ensure Pennsylvania students will graduate college- or career-ready, according to resolutions the state Board of Education passed on Thursday.
At a meeting in Harrisburg, Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said the department will not require schools to use a statewide curriculum or statewide reading lists, national assessments will not be administered to students, and the department will not expand its collection of student and personal family data.
The board added that language “to alleviate concerns raised by lawmakers and the public,” said Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education.
Curriculum and reading lists were always decided at the local level, he said, adding that officials never planned to administer the national Common Core assessments, preferring instead state-developed, end-of-course tests.
Existing data collection pertains only to student eligibility for programs and services such as career and technical education and special education. Eller said the department has no plans to collect any other data from students or their families.
The board also adopted the final implementation schedule for Keystone Exams, which will apply only to public schools. The tests, initiated last year to slowly replace the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, will no longer factor as one-third of a student's course grade.
This year's ninth-grade class — the class of 2017 — will be required to pass tests in Algebra I, biology and literature to graduate. The class of 2019 will be subject to a composition exam, and students graduating in 2020 and beyond face five Keystone Exams, including civics and government.
Dumaresq said the board action advances the process to finalize the Pennsylvania Core Standards and the requirement that students demonstrate proficiency through Keystone, an approved local equivalent or a comparable advanced placement or International Baccalaureate exam to earn a diploma.
Implementing assessments in composition, civics and government is still subject to available state funding, as are five additional unspecified exams.
The board also eliminated the requirement for all students to complete a culminating graduation project.
“If the state changes their standards, we'll raise the bar,” said board member Robert Clanagan of the Woodland Hills School District. “If that means more tests, OK.”
About to complete his fourth term representing Pittsburgh Public Schools, board member Mark Brentley Sr. said he was outspoken against the adoption of Keystone Exams two years ago.
“We have so many people from our local colleges and universities — even some of our retirees — who would have jumped at the chance to put together a local equivalent,” Brentley said. “It's still an option, I guess, but I don't anticipate any changes on our part. Not at this time.”
Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- At least one dead in Beaver County fire
- Dozens of cats rescued from trash-filled home in Arnold
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Ringgold topples Thomas Jefferson
- Foster mother awaits abuse charges
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Leader Times roundup: Karns City rolls in opener
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Clairton picks up where it left off, rout California, 72-0
- Armstrong football wins inaugural game
- South Allegheny mounts 2nd-half rally to top Sto-Rox