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New Paths to Graduation and Reporting Requirements

Recently, the Pennsylvania House and Senate passed a bill which would create additional paths to graduate from high school. As you may remember, the legislators originally passed a law in 2010 requiring students to pass Keystone Exams in certain subjects in order to graduate. While that law has been postponed many times due to push back from many different organizations, the legislators are poised to change the law again.

In its newest proposed bill, which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Wolf, the legislators added new routes to graduation for high school students that cannot pass the required Keystone Exams. In addition, there a few new notices required for school districts.
In addition to attaining proficient or advanced scores on the Keystone exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology, the class of 2022 will be able to earn their high school diploma only if they meet one of the following:

  • Attain a proficient score on at least one of the Keystone exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology and at least a basic on the other two and have the combined scores of the exams meet or exceed a state-specified score determined to be “acceptable;”
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in Algebra I, Biology, and Literature and one of the following:
    • Attain at least a state-specific passing score on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, Advanced Placement exam in any subject area, or the international baccalaureate exam in any subject area;
    • Earn a gold or platinum score on a WorkKeys certificate exam that determines career readiness;
    • Pass the Military entrance exam;
    • Complete a dual-enrollment course in any subject area;
    • Complete a pre-apprenticeship program; or
    • Gain acceptance into a four-year higher education institution and show evidence of the ability to handle college-level work.
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in Algebra I, Biology, and Literature and provide three pieces of evidence that reflect readiness for “meaningful post-secondary engagement” consistent with the student’s goals and career plan; or
  • Satisfactorily complete the program developed by an Individualized Education Program Team in the case of a student with disabilities.

Superintendents will also be able to waive the requirements that a student demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone Exams and any of the above requirements for 12th grade students or a student experiencing “extenuating circumstances.” While there will be no cap as to the number of waivers allowed, if your Superintendent grants waivers to more than 5% of students in a graduating class, your district will be required to submit certain notifications and be subject to certain audits from the Department of Education.

Lastly, starting in the 2020-2021 school year, your districts will be required to notify students, parents, and guardians of your graduation requirements and every December you will be required to submit a report to the Department of Education which contains certain information and data from your previous graduating class.

As always, the Attorneys at Stock and Leader will be here to monitor the status of this new legislation and, if signed into law, to help ensure your district is in compliance with it and other laws and regulations.

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