Act 158

A new law changes high school graduation requirements in PA. How will it impact students?

Image above courtesy of PublicSource.

Until this year, Keystone tests were the centerpiece of Pennsylvania’s high school graduation requirements. Now there are more paths to graduation — but some may be inaccessible to less-resourced schools and their students.

In a story published this week by PublicSource, writer Dakota Castro-Jarrett takes a look at Act 158, a law passed in 2018 that aims to make graduation more accessible and practical for students in our state.

The law introduces four alternative pathways for graduation that students can take instead of gaining a score of proficient on all three Keystone exams. These include things like getting a passing score on AP tests or a high enough SAT score, or taking career and technical education classes.

As appealing as that sounds, there’s a problem: Given the state’s continued school funding challenges, some teachers and education advocates worry that underfunded schools will still be struggling to prepare kids for the Keystones, and those same schools may also struggle to prepare kids for acing AP exams or scoring well on the SATs.

Students who are good test-takers have multiple pathways to graduation — pathways one, two and four all involving testing, Castro-Jarrett writes, but students who struggle with exams are presented with fewer alternatives by Act 158.

Read the full article here to learn all about the possibilities and concerns related to Act 158.

Want more local education news? Also on PublicSource this week: Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12 University Preparatory opened nearly 15 years ago with Ivy League ambition, but now faces tanking test scores and slumping graduation rates. Its principal aims for a new identity. Read that full story here: UPrep’s resets: A school meant to bring Pitt’s resources to Hill students goes back to the drawing board

Click here for a free subscription to PublicSource.