This year's sophomore class will be the first to go through the Warren County School District's new proposed graduation requirements.
A first reading of a new graduation policy was approved at Monday night's school board meeting.
The major shift in the requirements is the institution of Keystone Exams, year-end exams designed to assess student knowledge is a series of 10 core courses.
The proposal says, "In order to graduate from the District, the student must demonstrate proficiency in the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature and Biology, and such other subjects as shall be determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, no later than grade 11."
That marks a shift in the timing of the tests.
Previously, with the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, students would be eligible for graduation if they received a proficient score on the mathematics, writing and reading tests anytime during their junior or senior year.
If a student does not score in the proficient range under the PSSA model, they "will be administered the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT 8), the District's approved alternate assessment."
That option disappears in the new policy.
"Students who do not score at the proficient level or above on the Keystone Exams by the end of their grade 11 year will be required to participate in the state-developed Project Based Assessment, which shall be the District's approved alternate assessment," according to the proposed policy.
"The Project Based Assessment shall be administered during their senior year, or earlier...Students much achieve a defined scaled score to achieve proficiency on this assessment no later than their junior or senior year," the policy says.
While the mandated test changes, the graduation project component of the requirements will remain the same. As it is currently constructed, "the Graduation Project will be recorded in the student's senior year. The course titled Senior Project will be graded Pass/Incomplete and will not count towards a student's GPA," the new policy says.
The Graduation Project includes completion of a resume and cover letter, participation in the Choices Planner program that helps guide students toward careers that meet their interests and strengths, as well as a host of other options of which students must select three including, among others, community service, job shadowing and research projects.
While the three required Keystone Exams will be implemented this year, seven more are on the way. Keystone Exams will be offered for students who have taken Algebra II, Chemistry, English Composition, Geometry, U.S. History, World History and Civics and Government.
"Students shall be permitted to take the Keystone Exams upon completion of the courses covered by the Keystone Exams, and as many times as necessary prior to and/or during their grade 11 year to achieve proficient or advanced scores," the new proposal indicates.