WEST CHESTER (April 1) – State Senator Andy Dinniman today announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Education has agreed not to pursue the expansion of the Keystone Graduation Exams beyond the three required tests for high school students.
In a March 14 letter to Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, and to Senator Mike Folmer, the majority chair, Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq wrote, “The Pennsylvania Department of Education has no existing plan or schedule of when to pursue the additional Keystone Exams. In my tenure as Acting Secretary of Education, I do not anticipate any actions being taken to develop the final Keystone Exams.”
Dinniman recently introduced Senate Bill 1244, legislation that would do just that – limit the Keystone Graduation Exams to the three (Algebra 1, Literature and Biology) required by the federal government through Pennsylvania’s No Child Left Behind waiver. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Folmer and a bipartisan coalition of 13 other senators, was based on the right of the legislature to limit the availability or funding of the Keystones.
Chapter 4 Regulations (Academic Standards and Assessments) called for the addition of two more Keystone Graduation Exams, English Composition and Civics, in the 2019-2020 school year.
“With the guidance and support of Senate Education Committee Majority Chair Mike Folmer, I am pleased that we have reached an understanding with Acting Secretary Dumaresq that both affirms the objective of Senate Bill 1244 and reflects the realities of limited funds for assessment in the upcoming budget year,” Dinniman said.
The agreement also reflects the strong sentiments of a number of Chester County school districts. For example, on March 24 the Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board passed a resolution specifically requesting that the Keystones be limited to the current three tests.
In addition, he said he agreed with Dumaresq’s point in the March 14 letter that “the Commonwealth’s current focus should instead be on assuring success on the existing three Keystone Exams.”
“The decision by the department will save considerable funds on both the state and local school district level,” Dinniman said. “In an era of very limited funding and rising school property taxes, the decision not to expand the Keystone Graduation Exams is most welcome.”