Statewide High School Graduation Requirement
Senate Bill 1095, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018, shifted Pennsylvania's reliance on high stakes testing as a graduation requirement to provide alternatives for high school students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success. Formerly, Pennsylvania's graduation requirement was more restrictive, requiring most students to pass the Keystone Exams — end of course exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Senate Bill 1095 expanded the options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness using four additional pathways that more fully illustrate college, career, and community readiness.
Pennsylvania students take Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology as end-of-course exams, regardless of grade. Students are required to take the Keystone Exams to meet federal accountability requirements. Beginning with the graduating class of 2017, passage of these exams in Pennsylvania was also intended to serve as a statewide graduation requirement. In order to address implementation and policy challenges, the legislature enacted a series of moratoriums on the use of Keystone Exams as a statewide graduation requirement through Act 1 of 2016, Act 55 of 2017 and Act 39 of 2018. Act 1 of 2016 also required the Department of Education to provide a report of PDE's recommendations regarding state graduation requirements. PDE concluded that the existing graduation requirement too narrowly defined postsecondary success and recommended a requirement that more accurately recognizes the varied pathways to postsecondary success by offering options for students to demonstrate readiness. Those recommendations formed the basis for Senate Bill 1095, which was passed by the General Assembly with unanimous support and was enacted into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018.
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