More options for high school graduation requirements are coming to Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf says he will sign a bill into law that will do away with the standardized Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement for students.
There's been a moratorium on using the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement since 2016 due in part to concerns that it's not a fair marker of ability. State Senator Thomas McGarrigle (R-Delaware) is the lead sponsor of the bill Wolf intends to sign, which offers alternatives such as acceptance into college or an apprenticeship program.
"Not every child learns and takes tests the same way," McGarrigle said. "So to expect every child to fit into one group is crazy."
For example, he said a child doing a trade apprenticeship probably wouldn’t need to use biology in their career, so they shouldn't have to pass the Keystone Exam's biology portion to graduate. The Keystone Exam covers biology, algebra, and literature. Alternatives outlined in the bill include receiving state-approved scores on the ACT or SAT, the completion of an internship, and passing military entrance exams.
The elimination of the Keystone Exam as a graduation requirement won’t put Pennsylvania kids at a disadvantage, says Jonathan Berger, Director of Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.
"Every student who goes through one of these alternative pathways or options that the bill allows still has to meet or exceed locally established grade-based requirements," Berger said.
Under the bill, students will still be required to take Keystone Exams before graduation.