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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions​

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Are project-based assessments still an option to meet proficiency?

No school entity may be required to offer nor, may any student be required to participate in or complete a project-based assessment in order to meet statewide graduation requirements as provided for in 22 Pa. Code § 4.51c.

School entities may choose to incorporate project-based assessments into their local graduation requirements. To that end, project-based assessments will be made available on the PDE Standards Aligned System website as a resource for school entities. School administrators may download the projects and utilize them in the local setting, but PDE will not manage or score the project-based assessments.

For projects submitted for evaluation through March 2019 via the Project Based Assessment website, PDE will evaluate those projects. Projects completed after March 2019 are subject to evaluation at the local level.

Do the graduation requirements apply to students who opt out of a Keystone Exam?

​Yes. Students who opt out of one or more Keystone Exams must still meet state and local graduation requirements. Students may meet the statewide graduation requirement through one of the multiple pathways described in the Requirements section above. Note that students opting out will affect the student participation rate related to a school’s accountability status.

Is supplemental instruction required for those students who do not meet proficiency?

A school entity may offer supplemental instruction to a student who does not demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam or on a locally validated assessment; however, no student is required to participate. 

When offered, supplemental instruction must:

  • Be consistent with the student's educational program.
  • Assist the student to attain proficiency in the state academic standards.
  • Ensure that students who accept the school entity's offer of supplemental instruction are able to participate in both supplemental instruction and instruction related to their career, military or postsecondary education plans.

When offered, supplemental instruction must not:

  • Intrude into instructional time for career and technical education.
  • Occur during a student's dedicated time in a career and technical education program.

May students who score proficient or advanced on a Keystone Exam retake the exam?

​A student who achieves a score of proficient or advanced on a Keystone Exam shall only be permitted to retake the exam if the student or parent submits a request in writing to the school entity.

Does a waiver option exist?

A chief school administrator may grant a waiver of the requirements for demonstrations of proficiency on the Keystone Exams or alternative graduation requirements for a student in grade 12 or to accommodate a student who experiences extenuating circumstances (e.g., serious illness, death in the student's immediate family, family emergency, frequent school transfers, transfer from out-of-state in grade 12).

Each student granted a waiver under this subsection shall complete locally established, grade-based requirements for academic content areas associated with each Keystone Exam.

If the waivers granted by a chief school administrator exceed more than 5 percent of students in a graduating class, PDE will conduct a review of the waivers granted by the school entity. The school entity will be required to submit an improvement plan to PDE and will be subject to an audit conducted by PDE unless PDE determines that the 5 percent threshold was exceeded because waivers were granted to students who experienced extenuating circumstances.

What regulations exist for students with disabilities?

​A student with a disability who satisfactorily completes a special education program developed by an individualized education program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and 22 Pa. Code Ch. 14 (relating to special education services and programs) that does not otherwise meet the requirements of this section shall be granted and issued a regular high school diploma by the student's school entity.

Are there requirements to include Keystone Exam proficiency levels on a student's transcript?

​The performance level demonstrated in each of the state academic standards, including the highest performance level demonstrated by a student on the associated Keystone Exam, may be included on a student's transcript as determined by each school entity.

What requirements exist for student transfers from out-of-state?

​If a student transfers into a Pennsylvania high school from out of state, a private school, a home school environment, or from out of country, and that student's transcript shows credit received in Algebra 1, or an equivalent course; Literature, or an equivalent course; or Biology 1, or an equivalent course, the school entity must determine  whether the student's performance on the coursework and assessments that are aligned with the state academic standards assessed by each Keystone Exam satisfy the statewide graduation requirement.

What notifications must school entities provide to inform students, parents, and guardians of high school graduation requirements?

​Each school entity shall ensure students, parents and guardians are notified of the school entity's high school graduation requirements, including requirements established in law and regulations and any additional requirements established by the school entity, and shall publish its high school graduation requirements on its publicly accessible website.

Must school entities report to the Department the number of graduates and how each student met statewide graduation requirements?

​No later than December 1, 2022, and each December 1 thereafter, each school entity must submit a report on the number of students who graduated and a summary of how proficiency was met by those students. More information will be forthcoming on the method of reporting in future guidance.