High school graduation requirements in Pennsylvania will look a little different starting with the class of 2023.

“Historically, to graduate students took the Keystone Exams in algebra, English literature and biology. That’s initially what the state said, but then it was decided that’s not working so well,” said Kris Kaufman, principal of academic affairs of Northern Tioga School District at the school board’s work session Monday, Nov. 22.

Kaufman presented to the board the revisions to Act 158, which include several new “pathways” students can take to graduate high school. He said revisions were supposed to take effect with the class of 2022, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed that, so the new requirements start this school year for the class of 2023.

Kaufman gave an overview of the pathways, stressing that any local requirements set by the NTSD school board are still in place:

  • Keystone Proficiency Pathway – Minimum score of 1500 in each of the three Keystone Exams
  • Keystone Composite Pathway – Composite score of 4452 or better for all three Keystone Exams, with one or more scores of Proficient or Advanced and no score of Below Basic.
  • Career and Technical Education Concentrator Pathway – Completion of an industry-based competency certification, demonstration of high likelihood of success on such an assessment or demonstrated readiness for a CTE program of study.
  • Alternative Assessment Pathway – Attainment of a certain score on a different assessment such as the ACTs, SATs, ASVAB, AP exams or others; or complete certain dual enrollment courses, pre-apprentice programs or acceptance into an institution of higher learning.
  • Evidence Based Pathway – Provide three pieces of evidence out of several, such as certain scores on assessments, acceptance into college, completion of a service-learning project or guarantee of full-time employment.

Kaufman said more information is being sent home with students this week and can be found at https://pdesas.org/Frameworks/DCEToolKit/Act158PathwaysToGraduationToolkit.

Also at the work session, the board:

  • Heard updates on grants from Kaufman, who said ones for summer school and a new program in the works between the district and the Partnership for Community Health had been submitted, and one for learning loss will be submitted this week. Kaufman also said the submission for the next wave of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding is due sometime between January and February. The board has to decide what to do with the remaining $4.2 million the district will get after 20% of the total is set aside for learning loss.
  • Learned from Jeremy Freeman, building and grounds supervisor, that estimates for improvements to the air quality systems were received as follows: $23.1 million for the entire district and $7.4 million for just the district’s classrooms ($3.2 million for Williamson and R.B. Walter, $1.6 million for Cowanesque Valley, $1.4 million for Westfield Elementary and $1.2 million for Clark Wood Elementary). Air quality was an area targeted by the Department of Education for possible ESSER spending and was voted third priority for spending on a public survey to the NTSD tax base.
  • Heard an update on Williamson High School’s additional targeted support and improvement program from Principal William Butterfield. The plan includes using data-driven instruction, professional development, weekly academic alerts to parents if students are failing classes and coordinating attendance improvement plans with students and parents.
  • Received a draft assistant principal job description to review before the next meeting. Superintendent Dr. Diana Barnes said one application and a possible second have been received for the two open positions within the district.
  • Learned that even though Ian McLaughlin was on the ballot and won in the recent election, he no longer lives in the district and sent a letter of resignation for his seat on the school board. Barnes said the district’s solicitor recommends the board sign a resolution acknowledging that and appoint someone at the Dec. 1 meeting. Ben Howe, who was appointed to fill McLaughlin’s seat in August, can be reappointed if he and the rest of the board desire.
  • Echoed a thank you from Clark Wood Principal Jess Millard for all employees and staff who helped when the school was recently down to one custodian due to COVID-19.

The board will hold its reorganizational meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1.

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