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Update on the Keystone Graduation Exams
UPDATE: Governor Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 880 as Act 1 of 2016, delaying the graduation requirement associated with the Keystone Exams for two years –meaning it would affect current sophomores (Class of 2020).
Excessive testing without the necessary resources to prepare students is not only fundamentally unfair, but it also puts an unmanageable financial burden on school districts. It is time to return the focus of education to teaching, rather than testing. That way, we can ensure that every student has an opportunity to be educated to the top of the curriculum and be prepared for the future — not just for the next standardized test!
In November 2013, the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the Keystone Graduation Exams as part of the entire Final-Form Chapter 4 regulations. Commission Members John Mizner, Lawrence Tabas and Silvan Lutkewitte voted to approve, with members Dennis Watson and George Bedwick against the approval.
I continue to stand steadfastly against the implementation of the Keystone Graduation Exams for the same reasons I stated at the IRRC hearing and have outlined here.
The Keystone Graduation Exams have been tied to Common Core, new standards whose advocates say will better prepare students for college and 21st century careers. Common Core has its supporters and critics.
The Keystones are ushering in new high-stakes tests that students must pass in order to graduate, regardless of their grade point average. Under current law, high school students will have to pass Keystone Exams in three subject areas (Algebra I, Biology and Literature) in order to earn a diploma. This will also lead to a massive unfunded mandate on local school districts – one that will, no doubt, be passed onto taxpayers in the form of massive school property tax increases.
Please know that I am continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature to thwart the destructive impact of the Keystone Graduation Exams on our students, schools, teachers and taxpayers.
State Senator – 19th District