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Pa. pushes back graduation-test requirement

HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf signed a bill Wednesday that would delay for two years a requirement that Pennsylvania high school students pass graduation exams.

HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf signed a bill Wednesday that would delay for two years a requirement that Pennsylvania high school seniors pass graduation exams.

The bill would make the 2018-19 school year the earliest the state could administer the so-called Keystone Exams, which have been marked by logistical and cost issues, and criticized as being overly burdensome on school districts.

"While we should have high academic and educational standards in the Commonwealth," Wolf said, the state needs to look at Keystone alternatives.

"My administration is currently engaging teachers, administrators and students, community leaders, stakeholders, and advocates from around the state to develop a comprehensive school accountability system that will support schools and help Pennsylvania students succeed," he said.

The legislation passed the Assembly unanimously.

The administration said the reasons for the delay included the fact that higher numbers of students are failing to demonstrate proficiency in the Keystone subject areas, which are algebra 1, biology, and literature.

The superintendent of the West Chester Area School District said during the summer that the exams could cause some struggling students to give up on being able to graduate.

Wolf said school districts are shouldering the financial burden of helping students pass alternative tests.

He said he believed testing has a place in determining student readiness, but agreed that the Department of Education should investigate other methods for students to demonstrate proficiency for graduation.

The bill he signed Wednesday requires the department to study that question and report its findings within six months to the legislature.

acouloumbis@phillynews.com

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@AngelasInk

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the impact of the legislation Wolf signed. Students must still take the exam, but the passing it won't be a graduation retirement until 2018-19.