Understanding new regulations on Pennsylvania Core Standards and Keystone Exams
In late 2013, Pennsylvania's Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved new regulations dealing with the state's implementation of the Common Core and changes to the state's Keystone Exams. The IRRC action finalizes the new regulations, which were approved by the State Board of Education in September.
About the new academic standards
Pennsylvania Core Standards will replace the state's current academic standards, which differ from the Common Core Standards adopted by other states.
National Common Core Standards address only English/language arts and math, incorporating reading and writing in other subjects like social studies under English/language arts. Pennsylvania's standards will encompass various subject areas in addition to English/language arts and math.
The Pennsylvania Core Standards also reject the standardized tests on Common Core currently being developed by two national groups. Pennsylvania will test students' knowledge and understanding of our new academic standards using revised PSSA tests in grades 3-8 and Keystone Exams for Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Exams in other subjects will be developed in the future if funds are available.
Many school districts have already started to implement Common Core Standards, revising curricula and purchasing new textbooks. Implementation will be a challenge for many school districts, still reeling from Gov. Corbett's devastating cuts to school funding.
Read a recent PSEA Advisory for more details about the new academic standards.
Find a full description of the new standards on the PA Department of Education website.
Keystone Exam changes
Currently, all students take the Keystone Exams. Starting with the class of 2016-17 (this year's 9th graders) Keystone Exam results will be used to determine students' eligibility for graduation.
Students who score below proficient on the exams will be required to participate in remediation and given opportunity to demonstrate proficiency using a project-based assessment. Students who do not demonstrate proficiency in the three tested subjects using either method still may graduate if they meet all local graduation requirements and receive approval for from the district's superintendent.
The new regulations provide delay implementation of the Keystone Exams for two years. Students who have already taken Algebra I, and taken the Algebra 1 Keystone Exam will have their scores "banked."
Read PSEA's Advisory on the State Board actions for more information about the Keystone Exams.
Find full descriptions of the Keystone Exams on the PA Department of Education website.