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Pennsylvania Introduces New Academic Standards, Graduation Requirements

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Graduation day is a time for joy, a time for tears, and a time you want to believe that your kid is ready for a career or college.

Pennsylvania's new academic standards and revised high school graduation requirements are based on the National Common Core Standards.

"But Pa. put their own little twist on them. In many instances, they're a little more rigorous than the National Common Core Standards, which I think is a good for them," says Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dr. Tracy McNelly.

On the Norwin School District campus in Irwin, educators are working closely with the state to make sure all of the guidelines are properly in place.

The new standards are requiring a deeper focus on English Language Arts and Math concepts, learning how to apply those skills in the real world.

"So all those kinds of skills that we know are needed in the workforce are, I think, put into the new standards," said Dr. McNelly.

When it comes to graduation requirements, all public school students will have to pass Keystone Exams, which are end-of-course assessments, designed to test proficiency in various subjects.

Starting with the class of 2017, current ninth graders, students must pass three Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Biology, and Literature if they want to get a high school diploma or the equivalent.

For 2019 graduates, the current seventh grade class, four Keystone Exams - the previous three plus Composition.

The class of 2020, now in the sixth grade, five Keystones Exams with the addition of a test in Civics and Government.

But what if your kid cannot pass one of more?

"Students can retake those multiple times," says Dr. McNelly.

Schools must also provide remedial work, tutoring, structured study halls and teacher mentoring.

And, if all else fails, Dr. McNelly says, "The state has also put in place a project-based assessment that mimics the Keystone Exams.

The project is five to seven hours taken online with teacher guidance.

The bottom line, educators don't want to keep your kid in the 12th grade forever, so they'll do everything possible to be sure your kid makes it to graduation day, successfully.

More Education News
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