The State Board of Education in January approved a set of graduation standards that would require students to demonstrate proficiency in math, English, social studies, and science starting with the class of 2014.
The action introduces Graduation Competency Assessments (GCAs) in key subjects, but did not flatly require that all students pass them. Districts can use a local assessment, but will need to have it independently certified as sufficiently rigorous. Students can also demonstrate proficiency by passing the PSSAs, Advanced Placement, or International Baccalaureate tests.
The standards also introduce a "voluntary" state curriculum in the four tested subjects.
While some activists oppose the new standards as potentially punishing students for their districts' lack of resources, others see this as a wedge that will prod the General Assembly to heed its "costing out" study and change to school funding formula so all districts have enough to educate all students to proficiency. Advocates for special education students are seeking changes to clarify how the changes will affect their ability to earn a diploma.
The action must undergo a lengthy regulatory review process before becoming final.
For more information on the new graduation requirements, see the Pennsylvania Department of Education website .