Act 158 Graduation Requirements
Act 158 was signed into law on October 24, 2018, shifting Pennsylvania’s reliance on high stakes testing as a graduation requirement. Act 158 of 2018, in conjunction with Act 6 of 2017, expands the options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness. Formerly, Pennsylvania’s statewide graduation requirements were more restrictive, requiring most students to pass the Keystone Exams - end of course exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. The new statewide graduation requirements were set to take effect starting with the graduating class of 2022. However, on November 25, 2020, the Governor signed Senate Bill 1216, making it Act 136 of 2020. Act 136 shifted the new statewide graduation requirements to take effect starting with the class of 2023. It did not modify the actual requirements. Act 158 of 2018 establishes five pathways for students to demonstrate college, career, and community readiness. The High School guidance team is available to support students in determining the pathways to graduation that are appropriate and achievable for each individual student.
Students in the class of 2023 forward can meet the statewide graduation requirement within the Southern Lehigh School District through one of the following pathways:
Pathway 1: Keystone Proficiency Pathway: Scoring proficient or advanced on each of the Keystone Exams - Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.
Pathway 2: Keystone Composite Pathway: Earning a satisfactory composite score (4452) on the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology (while achieving at least a score of proficient on at least one of the three exams AND no less than a score of basic on the remaining two exams).
Pathway 3: Alternative Assessment Pathway: Earning a passing grade in the courses associated with each of the Keystone Exams on which a score of proficiency was not achieved AND satisfactorily completing one of the following:
- Attainment of an established established score on one of the following approved alternative assessment: SAT (Score of 1010); PSAT (Score of 970); ACT (Score of 21); ASVAB (the minimum score needed to gain admittance to a branch of the armed services in the year the student graduates);
- Attainment of Gold Level on the ACT WorkKeys Assessment;
- Attainment of a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement test in the content area associated with each Keystone Exam in which a score of proficiency was not achieved. Click here to see a list of AP Exams that are equivalent to each Keystone Exam;
- Successful completion of a concurrent enrollment course in the content area associated with each Keystone Exam in which a score of proficiency was not achieved.
- Successful completion of a pre-apprenticeship program;
- Acceptance in an accredited 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education and evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level coursework. (i.e. letter of acceptance, placement test results, college registration form, etc.)
Pathway 4: Evidence Based Pathway: Earning a passing grade in the courses associated with each of the Keystone Exams on which a score of proficiency was not achieved AND demonstrating three pieces of evidence consistent with goals and career plans.
Including one of the following pieces of evidence:
- Attainment of Silver Level on the ACT WorkKeys Assessment;
- Attainment of a 630 on an SAT Subject Test;
- Attainment of a 3 on an Advanced Placement test;
- Acceptance to an accredited nonprofit institution of higher education other than a 4-year institution and evidence of the ability to enroll in college level coursework; (i.e. letter of acceptance, placement test results, college registration form, etc.)
- Attainment of an industry-recognized credential;
- Successful completion of a concurrent enrollment or postsecondary course.
Including two of the following pieces of evidence:
- Satisfactory completion of a service learning project. Project proposals must be presented in writing to a guidance counselor for pre-approval by the principal/assistant principal. The proposal should include goals, activities, and contributions to the community. Projects must be supervised by an adult and completion must be verified in writing. (i.e. National Honors Society, Junior Rotarians, Boy Scouts, etc.);
- Attainment of proficiency or advanced on a Keystone Exam;
- A letter from an employer guaranteeing full-time employment;
- A certificate of successful completion of an internship or cooperative education program;
- Satisfactory compliance with the NCAA’s core course for college-bound student athletes with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0.
Pathway 5: Career and Technical Education Pathway: Earning a passing grade in the courses associated with each of the Keystone Exams on which a score of proficiency was not achieved AND one of the following:
- Attaining of an industry-based competency certification related to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Concentrator’s program of study.
- Demonstrating a high likelihood of success on an approved industry-based competency assessment. (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute (NOCTI) or the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS)
For more information, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Act 158: High School Graduation Requirement webpage.
2019-2020 Keystone Testing Cohort
Act 136 of 2020 states:
i. Section 2 - p.2 Lines 16-29 "For the 2019-2020 school year and any subsequent school year in which the federal government has waived the testing accountability requirements of the elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, - Any student who completed a course in an academic content area associated with a keystone exam shall not be required to take the keystone exam related to that course and shall be deemed proficient... provided that the student demonstrates successful completion of locally established, grade-based requirements for the academic content area associated with each content area exam."
- If a student was part of the 2019-2020 Keystone Exam cohort and is graduating in 2023 or later, then, the student must meet one of the 5 pathways to graduation. However, any Keystone Exam that was missed in 2019-2020 due to the COVID-19 shutdown will be considered to be PROFICIENT for the purpose of graduation, provided a passing grade in the course was earned.
- In this case, PROFICIENT is for the purposed of meeting graduation requirements and is not an assigned numerical score. Pathway 2 includes a composite score. Some students may still want to take the missed Keystone Exam in order to achieve an actual numerical score for the 2nd pathway to graduation.
If you are interested in your child taking the missed Keystone Exam, please contact Shane Cross, Director of Curriculum and Instruction K-12, email@example.com.
* Please note, as additional guidance is distributed to districts from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this website will be updated. Communication to families impacted by Act 136 will be forthcoming via Blackboard Connect email.