By: Morning Call Staff
It’s official: Students in Pennsylvania will be required to pass Keystone exams if they want to get a diploma.
The State Board of Education on Thursday adopted regulations that implement Common Core Standards in all school districts and require students to pass Keystone Exams to graduate..
Districts must begin teaching classes that align to Common Core Standards in English language, arts and mathematics by July 1, according to an announcement by the state Department of Education.
Common Core is a tough universal set of standards on what children should learn in math and other main subjects like English, social studies and the sciences. It asks students to have a deeper analytical understanding of key concepts in subjects. So far 45 states have signed on to the initiative.
The board also adopted the schedule for implementing the Keystone Exams, which are rigorous, end-of-course assessments designed to ensure a student’s mastery of academic content.
These exams are required to graduate from a Pennsylvania high school, though comparable assessments, including Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, could be substituted.
Beginning with the class of 2017, this year’s eight-grade class, students will be required to pass three Keystone Exams — algebra I, biology and literature or a comparable assessment to obtain a high school diploma.
Districts began administering those three Keystone Exams in January to current juniors in place of the PSSAs in math and reading, and to students who have already completed the courses.
The class of 2019, this year’s sixth-grade class, will be required to pass four Keystone Exams — algebra I, biology, literature and composition.
The class of 2020, this year’s fifth-grade class, and beyond will be required to pass five Keystone Exams — algebra I, biology, literature, composition, and civics and government.
In addition, the state will make the following exams available to districts, subject to available funding, for use on a voluntary bases: geometry in 2016-17; U.S. history in 2017-18; algebra II in 2018-19, chemistry in 2019-20 and world history in 2020-21.
The board also voted to repeal the required culminating graduation project, and the Keystone Exams, from counting as one-third of a student’s course grade.