§ 4.24. High school graduation requirements.

 (a)  Approval. High school graduation requirements and revisions to them shall be approved by a school entity’s governing board by September 2, 2014, and a copy of the requirements shall be published and distributed to students, parents and guardians. Copies of the requirements also shall be available in each school building or on each school entity’s publicly accessible web site. Changes to high school graduation requirements shall be published and distributed to students, parents and guardians and made available in each school building or on each school entity’s publicly accessible web site immediately following approval by the governing board.

 (b)  Requirements through the 2015-2016 school year. Each school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) and AVTS, if applicable, shall specify requirements for graduation. Requirements through the 2015-2016 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 English Language Arts and Mathematics on either the State assessments administered in grade 11 or 12 or local assessments 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.

 (c)  Requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

   (1)  General. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, each school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) and AVTS, if applicable, shall adopt and implement requirements for high school graduation that, at minimum, include:

     (i)   Course completion and grades.

     (ii)   Demonstration of proficiency as determined by the school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) or AVTS, if applicable, in each of the State academic standards not assessed by a State assessment under §  4.51, §  4.51a or §  4.51b (relating to State assessment system; Pennsylvania System of School Assessment; and Keystone Exams).

     (iii)   Demonstration of proficiency or above in each of the following State academic standards: English Language Arts and Mathematics (Appendix A-2); Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology (Appendix B), as determined through any one or a combination of the following:

       (A)   Completion of secondary level coursework in English Language Arts (Literature), Algebra I and Biology in which a student demonstrates proficiency on the associated Keystone Exam or related project-based assessment if §  4.4(d)(4) (relating to general policies) applies.

         (I)   A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall allow a student to take a Keystone Exam prior to taking the course associated with the exam’s content provided that the student achieved a score of advanced on the most recent associated PSSA assessment administered to the student.

         (II)   A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall allow a student who transfers from another state to take a Keystone Exam prior to taking the course associated with the exam’s content, provided that the student achieved a score comparable to the PSSA’s advanced performance level on a comparable assessment administered by another state.

         (III)   A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, may allow a student who scores 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 assessments, which shall be independently and objectively validated once every 6 years. Local assessments may be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies listed in §  4.52(c) 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: English Language Arts (Literature and Composition); Mathematics (Algebra I), Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology (Biology), and Civics and Government.

         (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 (g), 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, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber 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 until a new validation 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(f).

         (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, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, uses a local assessment that has not been independently validated, the Secretary will direct the school entity to discontinue its use until the local assessment is approved through independent validation by an approved entity.

       (C)   Completion of an Advanced Placement exam or International Baccalaureate exam that includes 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.

 (d)  Requirements beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Effective with the 2018-2019 school year, requirements in subsection (c)(1)(iii) must include a determination of proficiency in English Language Arts (Composition) (Appendix A-2).

 (e)  Requirements beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Effective with the 2019-2020 school year, Civics and Government (Appendix C) is added to the academic standards in subsection (c)(1)(iii). The requirements in subsection (c)(1)(iii) must include a determination of proficiency in Civics and Government.

 (f)  Career and technical education program students. A student enrolled in a Department-approved career and technical education program may satisfy the requirements of subsections (d) and (e) upon completion of secondary level coursework in English Language Arts (Literature), Algebra I and Biology, in which a student demonstrates proficiency on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment, and achieves a score of competent or advanced on a Pennsylvania State Skills Assessment required under §  4.31(a) (relating to vocational-technical education).

 (g)  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, charter school (including cyber charter school) or AVTS, if applicable. This subsection applies if the special education program of a child with a disability does not otherwise meet the requirements of this chapter.

 (h)  Demonstration of proficiency. For purposes of this section, a student shall be deemed proficient in the State-assessed standards whenever the student demonstrates proficiency through any of the options in subsection (c)(1)(iii), regardless of the student’s grade level or age.

 (i)  Transcripts. Beginning in the 2003-2004 school year, and through the 2012-2013 school year, PSSA scores in each assessed discipline shall be included on student transcripts. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the performance level demonstrated in each of the academic standards in subsections (c)—(e) shall be included on student transcripts. The information presented on a transcript must include the highest performance level demonstrated by a student on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment at the time the transcript is produced.

 (j)  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(f) and (g).

 (k)  Supplemental instruction. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, a student who does not demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam or a locally validated assessment specified in subsection (c), (d) or (e) shall be offered supplemental instructional support by the student’s school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school. The supplemental instructional support must be consistent with the student’s educational program and assist the student to attain proficiency in the State academic standards.

 (l)  Out-of-state transfers. A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall determine whether a student who transfers from an out-of-State school having demonstrated proficiency in coursework and assessments aligned with the academic standards assessed by each Keystone Exam may satisfy the requirements of subsections (c)—(e) subject to guidance developed by the Secretary.

 (m)  Transition. To effect successful transition between requirements outlined in subsections (b) and (c) regarding requirements through the 2015-2016 school year and requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, subsection (d) regarding requirements beginning in the 2018-2019 school year and subsection (e) regarding requirements beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, a student who will graduate in the 2016-2017 school year or thereafter, who successfully completes courses with academic content assessed under subsection (c), (d) or (e), regarding requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, 2018-2019 school year and 2019-2020 school year for which both the Keystone Exams and 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 sections 121, 2603-B and 2604-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § §  1-121, 26-2603-B and 26-2604-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; amended February 28, 2014, effective March 1, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 1131. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (346982) to (346986).

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 §  4.4 (relating to general policies); 22 Pa. Code §  4.31 (relating to vocational-technical education); 22 Pa. Code §  4.51b (relating to Keystone Exams); 22 Pa. Code §  4.51c (relating to project-based assessment); 22 Pa. Code §  4.51d (relating to waivers); and 22 Pa. Code §  4.52 (relating to local assessment system).



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