June 18, 2018
Re: Senate Bill 1095
On behalf of the 4,500 elected officials who govern the commonwealth’s public school districts, we are writing to request your support for Senate Bill 1095 sponsored by Senator Thomas McGarrigle (Chester and Delaware), which would reform State graduation requirements by providing multiple pathways for demonstrating readiness for graduation instead of using Keystone Exams as the sole consideration of student success.
The proposal under Senate Bill 1095 is the culmination of extensive discussion and collaboration with leaders in the Senate and the education community, including PSBA, and recommendations from the Department of Education. The bill revises the current graduation requirement that calls for students to pass the state-developed Keystone Exams in Literature, Algebra I and Biology in order to graduate. Although the graduation requirement was intended to begin in the 2016-17 school year, the General Assembly has acted to delay the effective date twice, with the mandate now set to become effective in the 2019-20 school year unless a new plan can be enacted.
Senate Bill 1095 builds a system with multiple pathways for students to demonstrate graduation readiness beyond simply passing each Keystone Exam. Under the bill students who do not score proficiently on all three Keystone Exams would be provided the opportunity to meet local grade-based requirements and utilize one of the following options as an alternative demonstration of graduation readiness:
- Option 1) achieve an established composite score based on performance on all three Keystone Exams;
- Option 2) achieve established equivalent scores on a variety of alternate assessments, achieve acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program after graduation, achieve admission to higher education, or achieve success in dual enrollment/postsecondary courses;
- Option 3) demonstrate competency through evidence specific to career and technical education (CTE) for students who are CTE concentrators (the bill simply clarifies this option which was passed into law just last year); or
- Option 4) present rigorous and compelling pieces of objective evidence relating to a student’s career, military, or postsecondary plans that reflect readiness for graduation which have been approved for use by the State Board of Education (the Board will also approve the amount of required evidence).
The bill further provides an additional year delay of the graduation requirement as a transition period to the new system, provides that a student with a disability who satisfactorily completes their individualized education program shall be granted a high school diploma, provides for the elimination of project-based assessments, places common-sense parameters on supplemental instruction relating to Keystone Exams, and addresses various other related issues.
PSBA would like to extend sincere thanks to Senator McGarrigle for championing this issue, as well as Senator Tomlinson, Senator Eichelberger, and Senator Dinniman for their work on this vitally important bill. SB 1095 is a significant and necessary piece of legislation which provides clear direction and stability to our schools and children regarding graduation requirements. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me at (717) 506-2450 x 3716.
Jonathan D. Berger
Director of Government Affairs
Pennsylvania School Boards Association