Schools can choose graduation exam use

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The state Board of Education on Thursday approved letting local school districts choose how they implement the state-mandated Keystone Exams for high school graduation.

When the board initially proposed implementation of the exams, some school administrators objected to the standard of grading that would be applied. They favored requiring their students to be proficient on the exam-- an option they considered easier to administer but more rigorous than using it as part of a course grade.

Currently, students can be placed in one of four categories depending on their performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test: advanced, proficient, basic and below basic.

State exam requirements will take effect with the Class of 2015. Keystone Exams will be field-tested for the first time in November in Algebra 1, biology and literature and will be offered voluntarily in the spring. If the U.S. Department of Education approves, they will replace the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in 11th grade in 2012-13.

Ultimately, the state will develop 10 Keystone Exams in various disciplines and require students to meet the standards in six disciplines.



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