Pennsylvania Department of Education creates new graduation pathways


"Exam" by albertogp123 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Students Keystone exam scores will no longer be required as a part of graduation requirements.

Dylan Scheel, Business Manager

At the end of every year, freshmen and sophomore students take a standardized test,  known as the Keystone Exam. The test is taken in three different subjects. These subjects are: Algebra, Biology and English. In previous years, students had to pass these exams to graduate, but the problem was there was not an alternative graduation solution for students that did not pass the exam. This kept pushing the changing of the requirement back. This year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education as well as representatives from across the state changed the requirements so that students no longer had to pass the exam to graduate.  Instead, there are different “graduation pathways” students can take to still be eligible to graduate despite their scores on the Keystone Exam. 

“The heart of what the state was trying to do in creating pathways was to recognize that there are a lot of ways students can be successful in high school,” Principal William Deal said. 

There are many different pathways students can take, some of which still involve the Keystone Exam, but also having some that are more career-based. 

“This is for students who are going to be successful after high school but giving them a way to explore that and show that while they are in high school,” Deal said. 

This change to implement pathways was meant to go into effect in the 2020-2021 school year, but was pushed back to the 2021-2022 school year due to COVID-19.

Students can still qualify for an exam based pathway by gaining a proficient score on the Keystone, but under the new changes, there are two ways to qualify. The first way is to gain at least a proficient score on all three of the subjects. The second way, however, is that a student’s scores on all three exams can be compiled together to meet the proficiency range. 

“If you were to score in the advanced range in algebra and biology, but just missed English literature by a couple of points, that is the composite score and you can still meet the range that way,” Deal said. 

There are also different pathways like career based pathways, evidence-based pathways and technical school pathways, as well as more to be announced at a later date. In the evidence-based pathway, students would put together career portfolios and they show that they got accepted into a four-year or two-year institution.

“In the technical school pathway, that relies mostly on the Nocti exam and what students are doing at the CTC,” Deal said. 

There will be more information specifically on these pathways and more at a later date. 

“This is meant to shift the focus to making sure that in high school, students are preparing and thinking about what life after high school is going to look like for them,” Deal said.