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Discovery on PA Keystone Assessments for Graduation Req's

Teresa A

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My son currently 14/8th grade (dyslexia, ADHD, speech sound production disorder (aka stuttering) has Algrebra I this year and therefore eligible to take the Keystone exam.  

I've been doing some reading on PDE plus our school HS graduation requirement to fully understand what's needed as far as the Keystone exams.   At this point, I am unsure if he'll score Proficient on Algebra (or Literature, Biology in the coming years).  However, I've read what seems like conflicting information on PDE. Has anyone gone down the Keystone rabbit hole recently to clarify?

  1. It sounds that Students are no longer required to score Proficient on Keystones to meet grad requirements but they must take them. https://www.education.pa.gov/K-12/Assessment%20and%20Accountability/GraduationRequirements/Act158/Pages/default.aspx 
  2. Then they must choose a different Pathway to graduate.   Has anyone been down this path?  If your kiddo isn't headed towards Vocational Tech career what else was done to satisfy the requirement assuming they also didn't take AP, SAT, ACT tests and pass with minimum scores.  

I've heard reports that their kiddo was able to do a project but I'm not seeing that in the listed pathways https://www.pdesas.org/Page/Viewer/ViewPage/56/?SectionPageItemId=12190

But then I've also seen that if your kiddo has an IEP and they've successfully navigated the IEP then they can receive special guidance and still receive the HS diploma https://pdesas.org/Frameworks/DCEToolKit/Act158PathwaysToGraduationToolkit

Thanks in advance 🙂


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  • 1 month later...

You can opt him out of the keystones and there are other paths for graduation, that don't require taking the keystones. The schools usually don't make that that clear because they can loose funding if students don't do the keystones.


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When Keystones were first introduced in 2013 (my daughter's class was the 1st class to take them - she was class of 2014), there was a project based assessment that substituted for passing Keystones.  They tried it & realized you needed to pay teachers to oversee these projects & schools didn't have the funds or personnel to do this and that path faded away as implementation dates for keystones being a graduation requirement kept being pushed back.  I'm pretty sure that this wasn't one of the alt pathways that was part of Act 158 of 2018.

My school district just started offering the ASVAB as an alt pathway.  What's cool about this option is the ASVAB also has a companion part which takes how the student did and comes up with career suggestions that match the things they are good at (per the test) with potential job pathways.

Graduating based on meeting IEP goals is an option but these students are generally not headed to postsecondary schools or a career with a lot of opportunity for growth.  There's a class you can take that counts as passing the Keystone but I don't feel that doing this really shows mastery of the subject.

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