Senate Advances Smucker Bill to Delay Keystone Exams as a Graduation Requirement

HARRISBURG (January 20, 2016)  Calling for both accountability in our schools and more fair and accurate assessment tools, the Senate today unanimously approved House changes to a bill introduced by Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) that will delay as a graduation requirement the Keystone Exams for two years.

Senate Bill 880 will delay as a graduation requirement the end-of-course exams in algebra, biology and literature until 2019.  The bill also requires the state Department of Education to study the issue and, within six months, advance recommendations on improved graduation requirements.

“While I strongly believe in holding schools accountable and ensuring that our high school graduates are career- and college-ready, parents and schools have raised many concerns about the implementation of these exams,” said Smucker, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “It is time to push the pause button on the timetable for phase-in and work through the honest concerns raised by parents, students and educators.”

As an example of two areas in need of review, Smucker referred specifically to project-based assessments, which are an option for students who have undergone remediation and re-taken the exams, as well as the impact of assessments on career and technical students.

“We remain committed to rigorous educational standards and ensuring that students demonstrate a mastery of these subjects.  Still, we may need to make additional common-sense improvements to our graduation requirements,” Smucker remarked.  “This legislation will give all stakeholders time to work together to improve the process and provide a more fair and effective menu of options for students and parents.”

The bill now heads to the Governor for his signature.

CONTACT: Diane McNaughton  (717) 787-6535