On Tuesday, October 9, 2018 the PA House, after amending the bill, voted 191-0 to pass its version of SB 1095 that provides students with alternative opportunities for high school graduation in lieu of passing the Keystone Exams.
Under the amended bill, a student could earn a diploma in a number of ways. For example, they could earn a diploma if they meet their LEA’s grade requirements and either achieve what the State Board of Education determines to be a passing score on the SATs; pass the military entrance exams; gain acceptance into a four-year college; or secure a full-time job that aligns with their career plan, doing an internship, and satisfactorily completing a pre-approved community service project.
The PA House also placed additional reporting requirements on school districts that would raise “red flags” that would evidence chronic systemic problems that may exist, including if the number of waivers to the graduation requirements that a superintendent gives exceeds five percent of the membership of the graduating class. Further, under the amended bill the graduation testing requirement would remain in moratorium until the new requirements take effect in 2020-21.
The amended bill now returns to the Senate for concurrence on the changes made by the House. Gov. Tom Wolf is supportive of the bill and plans to sign it if it comes to him. In addition, if signed into law, the proposed statewide graduation requirements would take effect starting with this year’s freshman class.
According to the amended bill, a student would earn a diploma if s/he:
• Attains a proficient or advanced score on the three Keystone Exams in Algebra I, biology and literature.
• Attains a proficient score on at least one of the Keystone Exams and at least a basic on the other two and have the combined scores of these exams meet or exceed a state-specified score determined to be acceptable.
• Meets or exceeds local grade requirements in areas tested in the Keystone Exams and one of the following: attain at least a state-specified passing score on the SAT, PSAT, ACT, Advanced Placement exam in any subject area, international baccalaureate exam in any subject area, earn a gold or platinum score on a Work Keys 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.
• Meets or exceeds local grade requirements in areas tested in the Keystone Exams and obtain an industry-based competency certification related to the career and technical education student’s program of study or demonstrates a likelihood of success in an industry-based competency exam.
• Meets or exceeds local grade requirements in areas tested in the Keystone Exams and three pieces of evidence demonstrating “readiness for meaningful postsecondary engagement” consistent with the career plan that students, starting this year are required to develop. The evidence must include one of the following: a silver score on the Work Keys exam, a state-specified acceptable score on the SAT, acceptance into community college or postsecondary institution other than a four-year college and proof of ability to handle college-level work, attaining an industry-recognized credential, attaining at least a state-set score on an Advanced Placement exam or international baccalaureate exam, or completing a dual enrollment course. Additionally, this option allows for the following to be evidence of graduation readiness: completion of a pre-approved service learning project, attaining a proficient or advanced score on a Keystone Exam, a letter guaranteeing full-time employment, completion of an internship/externship/cooperative education program, attaining at least a 2.0 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s core courses for college-bound student athletes, or meeting or exceeding local grade requirements in any science, technology, environment and ecology course.
• Satisfactorily completes the program developed by an individualized education program (IEP) team in the case of a student with disabilities.
Acknowledgments to PennLive