The Pennsylvania legislature is one step closer to pushing back using standardized tests as a graduation requirement.
As is, state law mandates high schoolers to pass Keystone exams in Literature, Algebra and Biology to graduate starting with the class of 2017.
In a unanimous vote, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted this week to bump back the testing requirement by two years, so it would begin to be enforced for the class of 2019.
The senate previously passed a similar measure by unanimous vote. The only difference is that the house wants the state Department of Education to study a possible alternative and make a recommendation within six months.
If the senate concurs on that addition, it will head to governor Tom Wolf, who has said he will sign it into law.
“The state of education in Pennsylvania continues to be in flux and in chaos because we don’t have a budget yet, and because, even if we get a budget we don’t know how those dollars will be distributed,” said Research for Action executive director Kate Shaw, who has pushed for the delay. “Given that fact, it seems particularly unfair to hold students to high school graduation requirements without giving them the tools that they need to actually meet those requirements.”
The 2017 graduation requirement was agreed to under former Gov. Ed Rendell, but bipartisan anxiety has risen across the state lately as many students have not been making the grade.
Based on 2014 scores, a quarter million Pennsylvania students would need to remediate through an alternative project-based assessment, for which no additional resources have been allocated — leading lawmakers on both sides to call it an unfunded state mandate.
While Keystone exam performance has not yet mattered for students, it has for teachers, as well as the schools themselves, both of whom are evaluated based, in part, on test scores.