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State Dept. of Ed releases new graduation standards

Updated: Thursday, September 12 2013, 03:18 PM CDT
Posted by: Lauren McLane

HARRISBURG -- The State Board of Education today approved revised regulations to update the state’s academic standards and high school graduation requirements.

These changes in the Academic Standards and Assessments will ensure that Pennsylvania’s students are graduating prepared to enter postsecondary education, the workforce and the military, acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said.

In May, Gov. Tom Corbett asked the board to delay further action on the regulations until concerns raised by lawmakers and the public were addressed.

During the past several months, members of the board and the Department of Education met with lawmakers and participated in House and Senate Education committee hearings to address their concerns. 

Dumaresq noted that today’s board action advances the process to finalize the Pennsylvania Core Standards and the requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams; an approved, equivalent local assessment; or a comparable advanced placement or international Baccalaureate exam to obtain a diploma from a Pennsylvania public school.

These standards will serve as a framework for schools as to what students should be taught and have knowledge of based on their grade level, Dumaresq said. Local schools, educators and communities will continue to decide the curriculum, instructional strategies and materials to be used in the classroom.

The board also adopted the final implementation schedule for the Keystone Exams, which are rigorous, end-of-course assessments designed to ensure a student’s mastery of specific academic content.

Beginning with the class of 2017 – this year’s ninth grade class – students will be required to pass three Keystone Exams – Algebra I, biology and literature – or a comparable assessment to obtain a high school diploma. 

The class of 2019 – this year’s seventh grade class – will be required to pass four Keystone Exams – Algebra I, biology, literature and composition. 

The class of 2020 – this year’s sixth grade class – and beyond will be required to pass five Keystone Exams – Algebra I, biology, literature, composition, and civics and government. 

The composition and civics and government exams will only be implemented based on available state funding. Subject to available funding, five additional Keystone Exams would be made available to schools for voluntary use.

The board also eliminated the requirement for all students to complete a culminating graduation project as well as the Keystone Exams from being factored as one-third of a student’s course grade. State Dept. of Ed releases new graduation standards

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