§ 4.24. High school graduation requirements.

 (a)  Requirements through the 2013-2014 school year. Each school district, including a charter school, shall specify requirements for graduation in the strategic plan under §  4.13 (relating to strategic plans). Requirements through the 2013-2014 school year must include course completion and grades, completion of a culminating project, results of local assessments aligned with the academic standards and a demonstration of proficiency in Reading, Writing and Mathematics on either the State assessments administered in grade 11 or 12 or local assessment aligned with academic standards and State assessments under §  4.52 (relating to local assessment system) at the proficient level or better to graduate. The purpose of the culminating project is to assure that students are able to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and communicate significant knowledge and understanding.

 (b)  Requirements beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

   (1)  General. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, each school district and AVTS (including charter schools), shall specify requirements for high school graduation in the strategic plan under §  4.13 that, at minimum, include:

     (i)   Course completion and grades.

     (ii)   Completion of a culminating project in one or more areas of concentrated study under the guidance and direction of the high school faculty. The purpose of the project, which may include research, writing, completion of a college application or some other appropriate form of demonstration, is to assure that the student is able to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and communicate significant knowledge and understanding. Projects may be undertaken by individual students or groups of students.

     (iii)   Demonstration of proficiency as determined by the school district or AVTS (including charter schools), in each of the State academic standards not assessed by a State assessment under §  4.51 (relating to State assessment system).

     (iv)   Demonstration of proficiency or above in each of the following State academic standards: Reading, Writing and Mathematics (Appendix A); Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology (Appendix B), as determined through any one or a combination of the following:

       (A)   Successful completion of secondary level coursework in English Composition, Literature, Algebra I and Biology in which a Keystone Exam serves as the course final exam. A student’s Keystone Exam score shall count as one-third of the final course grade. A school district or AVTS (including a charter school) may, at its discretion, elect to have the Keystone Exam count for more than one-third of the course grade. A school district or AVTS (including a charter school), at its discretion, may allow students who score at the advanced level on a particular Keystone Exam prior to taking the course to be granted course credit for the course without having to complete the course.

       (B)   Locally approved and administered, independently validated assessments shall be independently and objectively validated once every 6 years in conjunction with submission of the school district’s strategic plan, as provided in §  4.13. Local assessments may be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies listed in §  4.52(e) and may include the use of one or more Keystone Exams. Except for replacement of individual test items that have a similar level of difficulty, a new validation is required for any material changes to the assessment. Validated local assessments must meet the following standards:

         (I)   Alignment with the following State academic standards: Reading, Writing (Literature and Composition); Mathematics (Algebra I), Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology (Biology).

         (II)   Performance level expectations and descriptors that describe the level of performance required to achieve proficiency comparable to that used for the Keystone Exams.

         (III)   Administration of the local assessment to all students, as a requirement for graduation, except for those exempted by their individualized education program under subsection (e), regarding special education students, or gifted individualized education plan as provided in §  16.32 (relating to GIEP).

         (IV)   Subject to appropriations provided by law, the cost to validate local assessments shall be evenly divided between the school district or AVTS (including a charter school) and the Department. If the Department does not provide sufficient funding to meet its share, local assessments submitted for validation shall be deemed valid for the balance of the strategic plan period until either a new or mid-point update to the strategic plan is due to the Department.

         (V)   The Department will establish a list of entities approved to perform independent validations of local assessments in consultation with the local assessment validation advisory committee as provided in §  4.52(g).

         (VI)   School boards shall only approve assessments that have been determined to meet the requirements of this subsection by an approved entity performing the independent validation. If a school district or AVTS (including a charter school) uses a local assessment that has not been independently validated, the Secretary will direct the district to discontinue its use until the local assessment is approved through independent validation by an approved entity.

       (C)   Advanced placement or international baccalaureate exams that include academic content comparable to the appropriate Keystone Exam at a score established by the Secretary to be comparable to the proficient level on the appropriate Keystone Exam. Successful completion of an advanced placement course and test may be used for one or more of the courses required for graduation without the student being required to take the related Keystone Exam. Successful completion of an international baccalaureate program and tests may be used for one or more of the courses required for graduation without the student being required to take the related Keystone Exam or local assessment.

 (c)  Requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. Effective with the 2016-2017 school year, History and Civics and Government (Appendix C) are added to the academic standards listed in subsection (b)(1)(iv) regarding requirements beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Requirements listed in subsection (b)(1)(iv)(A) must include a determination of proficiency in both English Composition and Literature; two of three Mathematics (Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II), one of two Sciences (Biology or Chemistry), and one of three Social Studies (American History, Civics and Government or World History).

 (d)  Strategic plan. Each school district, including a charter school, shall describe in its strategic plan under §  4.13 how its planned instruction is designed to prepare students to meet the requirements of subsections (a) and (b).

 (e)  Special education students. Children with disabilities who satisfactorily complete a special education program developed by an Individualized Education Program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part shall be granted and issued a regular high school diploma by the school district of residence. This subsection applies if the special education program of a child with a disability does not otherwise meet the requirements of this chapter.

 (f)  Demonstration of proficiency. For purposes of this section, students shall be deemed proficient in the State-assessed standards whenever they demonstrate proficiency through any of the options in subsection (b)(1)(iv), regardless of the student’s grade level or age.

 (g)  Transcripts. Beginning in the 2003-2004 school year, PSSA scores in each assessed discipline, and beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, Keystone Exam or validated local assessment scores, shall be included on student transcripts and may be released only with the permission of the student and parent or guardian, or the student only if the student is 18 years of age or older.

 (h)  Release of scores. This section does not allow for the release of individual student PSSA or Keystone Exam scores to the Department or other Commonwealth entities in accordance with §  4.51(c).

 (i)  Supplemental instruction. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, a student who does not demonstrate proficiency in any of the ten courses or locally validated assessments specified in subsections (b) and (c) shall be offered supplemental instructional support by the student’s school entity. The supplemental instructional support must assist the student to attain proficiency in the State academic standards.

 (j)  Waivers. The Secretary may waive one or more provisions of this section on a case-by-case basis for good cause. Waivers will be based upon receipt of a written request from the chief school administrator. Waivers may be granted to accommodate students who experience extenuating circumstances (including serious illness, death in immediate family, family emergency, frequent transfers in schools, or transfer from an out-of-State school in 12th grade).

 (k)  Transition. To effect successful transition between requirements outlined in subsections (a) and (b) regarding requirements through the 2013-2014 school year and requirements beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, students who will graduate in the 2014-2015 school year or thereafter, who successfully complete courses with academic content assessed under subsection (b) or (c), regarding requirements beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, and requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, for which Keystone Exams or local validated assessments were not available at the time the course was completed, shall be deemed proficient for purposes of this section.

Authority

   The provisions of this §  4.24 amended under section 32 of the act of June 29, 2002 (P. L. 524, No. 88); and amended under sections 2603-B and 2604-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § §  26-2603-B and 2604-B).

Source

   The provisions of this §  4.24 amended October 25, 2002, effective October 26, 2002, 32 Pa.B. 5266; amended February 15, 2008, effective February 16, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 872; amended January 8, 2010, effective January 9, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 240. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (332276) to (332278).

Notes of Decisions

   IEP Compliance

   Court determined that hearing officer, when reaching the conclusion that the student had completed the graduation requirements, failed to consider whether the requirements of the student’s individualized education program (IEP) were fulfilled, as required by §  4.24(e). Because school district did not fulfill IEP obligation, it was required to pay tuition and fees for a transitional program after high school for one year, which the court found fulfilled the graduation requirements of §  4.24(e), Susquehanna Township School District v. Frances J., 823 A.2d 249, 255-56 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2003).

Cross References

   This section cited in 22 Pa. Code §  4.13 (relating to strategic plans); 22 Pa. Code §  4.31 (relating to vocational-technical education); 22 Pa. Code §  4.51 (relating to State assessment system); and 22 Pa. Code §  4.52 (relating to local assessment system).



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