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What are Keystone tests?

Special education
Special education
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

What are these Keystone tests you hear about? Your child comes home from high school and says that the teacher told them that they have to know certain facts and pass what is called the Keystone tests in order to graduate. Students worry and parents worry and get confused. What is this is all about and what if your child receives special education?

Schools cannot offer much assistance in explaining this either and while parents might think they are hiding something, they are not. They only know what the Pennsylvania Department of Education has told them thus far. Schools know that the students need to pass these exams and that future funding for the school districts depend on the number of students that pass the test. The test covers English, Algebra, and Biology concepts and thus the teachers have been teaching lessons based on those concepts.

The gray area in this process is what happens when the student receives special education. Often times, a student who receives special education is not learning at a level that is needed to pass these tests. However, just like students that are in regular education they need to take the test (with accommodations if noted in their IEP). Once they fail, the school has to implement a remediation process. They take the test again and fail it. Then, the IEP team can decide that they can take the project that the Department of Education designs to meet the graduation requirements. The guidelines of said project have not been clearly defined to date, but it is similar to the graduation projects that schools have had in the past.

Don’t panic. It can change. Every child is different and the IEP team (parents and students included) can make the final decision.