Senate Approves McGarrigle Bill Offering Students Alternatives to Keystone Exam Graduation Requirements

Harrisburg – The State Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Tom McGarrigle (R-26) that would provide students with alternatives to Keystone Exams to fulfill high school graduation requirements.

Senate Bill 1095 would offer students who do not score proficient on Keystone exams alterative pathways to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school. McGarrigle emphasized that passage of the measure continues the important work of establishing a more thoughtful approach to high-stakes testing and graduation requirements.

 “The purpose of graduation requirements should be to demonstrate that students can show proficiency in the knowledge and skills relevant to their individual career pathways.  A standardized test does not always provide an accurate assessment of post-secondary readiness.” said McGarrigle. “Offering more flexible options will ensure students are prepared to graduate, while reducing the amount of valuable instruction time lost to testing.”

The Keystone Exam graduation requirement has been delayed until the 2019-20 school year. The alternate graduation options McGarrigle’s legislation proposes would take effect when the Keystone exam delay expires.

Under Senate Bill 1095, students would have to meet one of the following requirements to graduate:

  • Meet or exceed a composite score across Keystone exams in algebra I, biology, and literature, and demonstrate at least “basic” performance on each of the three exams;
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone exams and complete a subject-specific advanced placement, international baccalaureate, or armed services vocational aptitude test, gain acceptance in a registered apprenticeship program, or attain a career readiness certificate;
  • Meet or exceed local grade requirements in subjects tested by the Keystone exams and present at least three pieces of evidence from the student’s career portfolio, which is required for federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Senate Bill 1095 is the culmination of recommendations from the Department of Education and collaboration with leaders in the education community, including teachers and administrators.

“The “one-size fits all” standardized approach to testing creates a tremendous amount of stress for students and teachers and shouldn’t be the only way to prove graduation readiness and academic achievement.” McGarrigle said.  “My bill provides the flexibility that schools, parents and students have been asking for while still ensuring that graduates meet established standards and are ready to succeed.”

Senate Bill 1095 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

CONTACT:    Mike Rader mrader@pasen.gov (717) 787-1305