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Pennsylvania

Wolf to sign law delaying Keystones, changing graduation requirements

Jamie Martines
| Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, 1:12 p.m.

A bill heading to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk this week will delay the Keystone Exam graduation requirements — again — but promises to give students more options for showing that they are prepared to graduate from high school.

The Pennsylvania Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that does not eliminate graduation requirements but rather provides alternatives to the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments intended to assess proficiency in Algebra, literature and biology.

In order to graduate under the new law, students must complete course requirements — established by their local schools — in addition to any of the following:

  • Show proficiency on the SAT, PSAT or ACT;
  • Pass an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam;
  • Complete a dual-enrollment program;
  • Complete an apprenticeship program;
  • Get accepted to an accredited four-year nonprofit institution of higher education;
  • Complete a service-learning project;
  • Secure a letter of full-time employment;
  • Achieve an acceptable score on a WorkKeys assessment, an exam administered by the ACT which assesses workplace skills including math, reading comprehension and applied technology.

A law signed by Wolf in 2016 delayed the use of Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the 2019-20 school year. Senate Bill 1095 delays the use of Keystone Exams until the 2021-22 school year. The tests have been administered each year in order to satisfy federal guidelines that require schools to submit data on students’ academic achievement.

“Remember, the Keystones have been delayed and the graduation requirement associated with them has been stopped, but they will still be required in Pennsylvania schools for federal accountability,” Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester County, said in a statement. “Meanwhile, we know they are expensive, redundant and unnecessary and I will continue to work to end them once and for all.”

Dinniman is minority chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Wolf intends to sign the bill, according to a statement released Monday.

“Preparation for 21st century success cannot be measured just by performance on high stakes tests,” Wolf said in the statement. “In an economy which demands multiple skill sets and includes varying educational pathways to good-paying jobs, students should have multiple ways to demonstrate that they are college and career ready.”

In June 2017, Wolf signed Act 6 into law, which would allow students taking classes at career and technical education schools to replace the Keystone Exam with industry-based competency certification.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, jmartines@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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