New Graduation Requirements Recommended for Select Upper St. Clair Students

The new state-mandated tests have caused a need for a change.

Upper St. Clair School District administrators are recommending the school board adopt new graduation requirements for the current freshmen, sophomores and juniors at the high school.

The policy must be changed because Pennsylvania no longer gives PSSAs to juniors, which are part of the current graduation requirement for Upper St. Clair High School.

In the proposal, students would continue to be required to earn at least 45 credits (eight English; six math; six social studies; six science; four arts/humanities; three physical education; one health; 11 electives) and continue to complete a career-focused graduation project.

The change? A new requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency on the Keystone exam for algebra I, English literature and biology.

Because many students finish Algebra I at the end of grade eight, biology at the end of grade nine and English literature at the end of grade 10, students are worried about remembering the material from their old courses.

"They (students) were all complaining about them (the Keystone exams). Especially the biology test. Kids are worried," said student representative Megan Adamo.

The district received word in the fall from the state that the PSSAs would not be given to juniors. 

"We're going to have to be flexible ... so students don't get hurt by bad public policy," said Superintendent Patrick O'Toole.

"It's really troublesome that the state is imposing requirements without any real guidance, support, funding ... it's insanity," said school Director Harry Kunselman.

Students will be given a second chance to take the Keystone exams with an online remediation program if they don't demonstrate proficiency the first time around.

Duke February 27, 2013 at 04:06 PM
I bet the majority of the people over 40 could not demonstrate proficiecy on the Keystone exam for Algebra 1, English literature and biology.
Glenn Robinson February 27, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Becky, Are those the only three subjects students have to pass standardized test on to meet graduation requirements? If so, that seems to be too narrow.
B February 27, 2013 at 06:34 PM
What would you propose? The whole concept of a 'graduation test' is more geared toward wedding out the lowest common denominators rather than actually serving any purpose. The requirement itself isn't even a decade old. The requirements for graduation are built within the curriculum and guidance of the school. The test is merely a formality. Furthermore, the real test for our students is not these Keystone exams, it is the SAT and ACT's which actually DO matter. To me, it seems that the Keystone exams are geared toward ensuring under performing school districts are educating students to a minimum proficiency. There is no college graduation test nor is there an MBA test.
Glenn Robinson February 27, 2013 at 08:20 PM
True, the graduation requirements are minimum requirements. They should insure that a student has the ability to become a productive member of society, not necessarily succeed in college (which is what the SAT and ACT are designed to measure). I'd rather see some skills tests rather than subject based knowledge tests, i.e. can students reason, think critically, differentiate between opinion and fact, etc. Perhaps "narrow" was the wrong word. What I meant was it seems to subject specific.


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