Friday, October 23, 2009

Commission Approves New State Graduation Exams

The Intergovernmental Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-1 yesterday to approve the Keystone Exams as a requisite for graduating from Pennsylvania high schools. State Board of Education Chairman Joe Toresella called the proposed exams a compromise between those that wanted a strict exam that all students would have to pass before graduating, and those that had a number of concerns about inflexibility in the tests. Torsella says the current version of the regulation would have the tests count for a third of the requirement for gradation, give districts the ability to create their own tests so long as they are approved by the department of education, and allow students a number of opportunities to retake the tests, as well as provisions for those that have difficulty with testing, ESL students and those with disabilities. Torsella says the tests would not be another layer of exams for students because eventually they will replace the 11th grade PSSA exam, and will in fact take up 3 fewer days of testing than the current tests require. Toresella says yesterday's action will come to full fruition for the class of 2014/15. But parents will see the impact right away. The voluntary model curriculum will be rolled out immediately along with new diagnostics. Next year the first of the exams will be in use, though not obligated for graduation.

He says right now the state graduates 50,000 students a year that are not proficient in math and reading at grade level. When these tests go into effect, he says students, colleges and employers can be confident that they are ready for the next step.

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