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RULES AND REGULATIONS

Title 22—EDUCATION

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

[ 22 PA. CODE CH. 4 ]

Academic Standards and Assessment

[44 Pa.B. 1131]
[Saturday, March 1, 2014]

 The State Board of Education (Board) amends Chapter 4 (relating to academic standards and assessment) to read as set forth in Annex A. Notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 42 Pa.B. 6365 (October 6, 2012).

Statutory Authority

 The Board is acting under the authority of sections 121, 2603-B and 2604-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (School Code) (24 P. S. §§ 1-121, 26-2603-B and 26-2604-B).

Background

 The Keystone Exams became a component of the Commonwealth's high school graduation requirements upon publication of the final-form rulemaking at 40 Pa.B. 240 (January 9, 2010). This 2010 rulemaking, which was reviewed by the House Education Committee, Senate Education Committee and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) prior to its enactment, provides for the development of ten Keystone Exams as a component of State graduation requirements, requires schools to provide supplemental instruction to students who are not proficient in the academic standards assessed by Keystones and creates an alternative project-based assessment for students who are unable to demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam.

 The Board adopted the ''Common Core State Standards'' in English Language Arts and Mathematics and added these academic standards to Chapter 4 in the final-form rulemaking published at 40 Pa.B. 5903 (October 16, 2010). The Common Core State Standards were developed through a state-led process managed by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association.

 Subsequent to their establishment in Chapter 4, the General Assembly laid a statutory foundation for the development of Keystone Exams in the act of June 30, 2012 (P. L. 684, No. 82) (Act 82). Act 82 amended section 121 of the School Code to require, subject to annual appropriations, that the Department of Education (Department) develop and implement Keystone Exams in the following subjects: Algebra I, Literature, Biology, English Composition, Algebra II, Geometry, United States History, Chemistry, Civics and Government, and World History. Act 82 further directed the Board to promulgate regulations necessary to implement section 121 of the School Code. See section 121 of the School Code. This final-form rulemaking represents another vital step in implementing the Keystone Exams and their foundational standards.

 The formative steps for this final-form rulemaking moved on two tracks. First, further study by the Department concluded that students in this Commonwealth would be better served by creating a unique set of State-specific standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, guided by the Common Core and the needs of this Commonwealth. The advantages lie in the ability to reframe and revise when necessary absent a CCSSO revision process, and presented an opportunity for educators in this Commonwealth to internalize the standards and create a user-friendly standard set for implementation in all schools in this Commonwealth.

 To accomplish this, the Department initiated a review of the Common Core State Standards. The Department convened teams of educators from this Commonwealth to inform the drafting of revised, State-specific academic standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Educators were invited to submit their names for participation on the Mathematics and English Language Arts committees through an application on the Department's web site. Membership selection for these two committees was founded on the need to have well-rounded groups representing K-12 education and members with experience in the content areas assessed by Keystone Exams, curriculum framework, Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) development and other standards-related initiatives. Committee members participated in several meetings hosted by the Department to produce the Pennsylvania Core Standards included in this final-form rulemaking.

 In the second formative track, the Board's Committee on Academic Standards/Chapter 4 (Committee) oversaw the review of amendments to the procedures and requirements in Chapter 4. The Committee held public hearings to solicit input on draft revisions regarding Keystone Exams. In advance of the hearings, draft revisions to Chapter 4 were posted on the Board's web site for public review. Hearings were held at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit in Norristown on February 29, 2012, and at the Department in Harrisburg on March 14, 2012. A third hearing scheduled to be held in Pittsburgh on March 7, 2012, was cancelled because no one registered to provide comment to the Committee.

 In addition to providing an opportunity to testify before the Committee, the Board also invited individuals to submit written testimony on draft proposed revisions to Chapter 4. Comments received during this process were taken into consideration in making revisions to the proposed rulemaking that was approved by the Board at its public meeting on May 10, 2012.

 Subsequent to adoption of the proposed rulemaking, the Board invited interested persons and individuals affiliated with small businesses to submit comments, questions, suggestions, commendations, concerns or objections on the proposed rulemaking. The Board received written comments from 146 individuals and organizations during the 30-day public comment period. The Board then considered and approved a final-form rulemaking on March 14, 2013. The final-form rulemaking included revisions to the proposed rulemaking based on comments received from the public and from IRRC.

 On June 18, 2013, the House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 338 (H.R. 338), which expressed concern with the Common Core State Standards and urged the Board and the Department to address a number of matters regarding the utilization of the Commonwealth's academic standards. The concerns identified in H.R. 338 were echoed to the Board by members of the public. In response to H.R. 338, the Board withdrew the final-form rulemaking from review by the Governor's Office of the Budget, the Governor's Policy Office and the Office of General Counsel to provide the Board time to consider these concerns.

 During this time, the Board engaged in additional deliberation about the final-form rulemaking in multiple venues. First, the Board provided an additional opportunity for the public to comment on the final-form rulemaking at its public meeting on July 10, 2013. Second, the Board appeared before the House Education Committee to discuss the final-form rulemaking at its public hearing in Harrisburg on August 5, 2013. Third, the Board appeared before the Senate Education Committee to discuss the final-form rulemaking twice at its public hearings in Chester County on August 26, 2013, and in Harrisburg on August 29, 2013. Finally, the Board heard additional public comment on the final-form rulemaking during the public meeting of its Council of Basic Education on September 11, 2013, and during its public Board meeting on September 12, 2013.

 The Board prepared revisions to the final-form rulemaking to address concerns heard during this time for additional deliberation. The revisions: (1) clarified that the Commonwealth's academic standards do not apply to private, religious or home education students; (2) reinforced the Board's long-standing intention that it will not mandate a Statewide curriculum or required reading lists; (3) prohibited the expansion of student and family data collection due to the Pennsylvania Core Standards; and (4) expressed the Board's intention to not include National assessments as part of the State assessment system, while retaining discretion for the Department to continue participating in a multistate collaborative working to develop an alternate assessment for students with the most severe cognitive disabilities and requiring consultation with teachers, counselors and parents of students who would be eligible to take the alternate assessment prior to its administration in this Commonwealth. The additional revisions also deleted a requirement that a student's transcript denote whether proficiency was demonstrated by a project-based assessment, and revised the waiver process to seat these determinations with a local chief school administrator rather than with the Secretary of Education.

 A revised final-form rulemaking encompassing the revisions previously described was approved by the Board on September 12, 2013.

Need for the Final-Form Rulemaking

 This final-form rulemaking is necessary for three reasons.

 First, it is essential to set forth the academic standards that will serve as the substantive underpinning for the Keystone Exams. Therefore, the Board is publishing the State-specific Pennsylvania Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics as Appendix A-2. The Board also is publishing the Pennsylvania Core Standards for Reading in Science and Technology and the Pennsylvania Core Standards in Writing for Science and Technology as supplements to the Academic Standards for Science and Technology (currently in Appendix B) and the Pennsylvania Core Standards for Reading in History and Social Studies and the Pennsylvania Core Standards in Writing for History and Social Studies as supplements to the Academic Standards for History (currently in Appendix C).

 Second, the final-form rulemaking replaces existing language that states a Keystone Exam counts for at least 1/3 of the course grade with the requirement that a student will demonstrate ''proficiency'' on a Keystone Exam to graduate. At the same time, the final-form rulemaking maintains the option for districts to utilize validated local assessments and Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams as alternative paths to proficiency, and continues to include protections for students established in current law such as exam retakes, supplemental instruction, project-based assessments and waivers of certain graduation requirements. This revision responds to concerns raised with the practicality of implementing Keystone Exams as part of a student's course grade due to the time frame for administering exams to return scores to schools in time to calculate grades; the potential for inconsistent implementation due to the lack of a Statewide grading scale; the fairness of a requirement that students scoring below basic receive a score of 0 as 1/3 of their course grade; and questions about whether schools would need to continuously recalculate course grades, grade point averages and class rank based on the results of Keystone Exam retakes.

 Further, there is emerging evidence that ''high stakes'' testing or requiring passage of a test or exam to obtain a high school diploma can be a ''potent policy in terms of bringing about real positive changes in student learning.'' See Wang, L., Beckett, G., & Brown, L. (2006) ''Controversies of Standardized Assessment in School Accountability Reform: A Critical Synthesis of Multidisciplinary Research Evidence.'' Applied Measurement in Education, 19(4), 320. To assure that taxpayer dollars produce results in public education, the appropriate standards and assessments need to be coupled with a concrete incentive for learning.

 The use of Keystone Exams as a standalone measure of graduation requirements, combined with the multiple pathways to graduation and supports provided by the current regulations and extended in this final-form rulemaking, also is supported by the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing established by the American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association and National Council on Measurement in Education. Standard 13.5 states that ''when test results substantially contribute to making decisions about student promotion or graduation, there should be evidence that the test adequately covers only the specific or generalized content and skills that students have had an opportunity to learn.'' Standard 13.6 states that ''students who must demonstrate mastery of certain skills or knowledge before being promoted or granted a diploma should have a reasonable number of opportunities to succeed on equivalent forms of the test or be provided with a construct-equivalent testing alternative of equal difficulty to demonstrate the skills or knowledge. In most circumstances, when students are provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery, the time interval between the opportunities should allow for students to have the opportunity to obtain the relevant instructional experience.''

 The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing further support the final-form rulemaking in the following excerpt addressing fairness in testing:

For example, when tests are used for promotion and graduation, the fairness of individual interpretations can be enhanced by (a) providing students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities through repeated testing with alternate forms or through other construct-equivalent means, (b) ensuring students have had adequate notice of skills and content to be tested along with other appropriate test preparation material, (c) providing students with curriculum and instruction that affords them the opportunity to learn the content and skills that are tested, and (d) providing students with equal access to any specific preparation for test taking (e.g., test taking strategies).

 The final-form rulemaking comports with these standards by providing students with multiple pathways to demonstrate proficiency by a Keystone Exam, locally validated assessment and related AP and IB exams, providing unlimited opportunities to take a Keystone Exam to demonstrate proficiency, providing an alternative project-based assessment and requiring students to engage in supplemental instruction before a second attempt on a Keystone Exam and before being able to participate in a project-based assessment. The State assessment system further comports with these standards through the establishment of assessment anchors and eligible content that clearly communicate the academic content that will be assessed.

 Third, this final-form rulemaking is necessary for this Commonwealth to remain academically competitive with other American public education systems including those in neighboring states. As of the 2010-2011 school year, 30 states currently require or plan to require students to take, but not necessarily pass, an assessment to graduate. In 25 of the 30 states (including Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Virginia), ''students are (or soon will be) required to pass the assessment in order to graduate.'' See Center for Education Policy (CEP), State High School Tests, page 11, December 2011.

 According to CEP, approximately 76% of public high school students Nationwide—including 78% of low-income students and 84% of students of color—are enrolled in states with exit exams. This final-form rulemaking will allow this Commonwealth to keep pace with rising academic expectations Nationally, while still providing districts and students with significant flexibility and alternatives in implementing and meeting the requirements.

Summary of the Final-Form Rulemaking

 The final-form rulemaking makes changes to three main components of Chapter 4: strategic planning; academic standards; and high school graduation requirements. Major revisions include the following:

 1) Eliminating the requirement that strategic planning be conducted through a State-prescribed time frame and State-prescribed format to provide flexibility in how school entities choose to approach strategic planning. The final-form rulemaking also retains planning requirements for six plans regarding educator induction, educator professional development, special education, gifted education, student services and early childhood education, and requires that the public be provided a minimum 28-day public comment and inspection period prior to adoption of each of those plans by a local governing body. The final-form rulemaking also makes minor editorial changes to different provisions throughout Chapter 4 to be consistent with the deletion of the strategic plan requirement.

 2) Establishing State-specific Pennsylvania Core Standards as the Commonwealth's academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts.

 3) Strengthening existing graduation requirements for the 2014-2015 school year and extending the effective date of the requirements to the 2016-2017 school year. The final-form rulemaking requires that each school district, charter school, cyber charter school and area vocational-technical school (AVTS) (if the AVTS graduates students) adopt and implement requirements for high school graduation that, at a minimum, include: course completion and grades; and demonstration of proficiency or above in the State academic standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics, Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology, and in each of the State academic standards for which there is not a State assessment.

 Students would be required to demonstrate proficiency on the appropriate Keystone Exam or a specified and validated assessment instrument, including a local assessment, or comparable AP or IB exam. Keystone Exams would no longer be incorporated into a student's final course grade. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the ''culminating project'' would be removed as a State graduation requirement, and students who are subject to a religious opt-out of State assessments would be required to participate in project-based assessments to demonstrate proficiency for graduation. The culminating project is eliminated to avoid potentially duplicative requirements of the project-based assessments.

 4) Beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, graduation requirements would include a determination of proficiency in Composition in English Language Arts. In the 2019-2020 school year, the final-form rulemaking adds Civics and Government to the list of subjects for which a determination of proficiency is required for graduation. As noted in § 4.51b(j) (relating to Keystone Exams), the availability of Keystone Exams for Composition and Civics and Government is subject to funding appropriated by the General Assembly for the development of the exams, related project-based assessments and validation of locally aligned assessments.

 5) Provides for five other Keystone Exams to be developed for voluntary use by school districts, AVTSs, charter schools and cyber charter schools. Subject to funding appropriated by the General Assembly, the following content area exams would be developed by the Department and made available in accordance with the following schedule:

School Year 2016-2017 Geometry
School Year 2017-2018 U.S. History
School Year 2018-2019 Algebra II
School Year 2019-2020 Chemistry
School Year 2020-2021 World History

 6) Allows students who do not demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam to enter into a project-based assessment as long as certain conditions are met. The final-form rulemaking makes access to the project more flexible by requiring a student to make two attempts at a Keystone Exam and complete supplementary instruction to the satisfaction of the student's school district prior to being able to participate in a project-based assessment rather than requiring a student to participate in at least 2 school years of supplemental instruction as a criteria for participation in the project, as suggested in the proposed rulemaking.

 7) Allows a chief school administrator to grant waivers to State graduation requirements on a case-by-case basis for students who either are not proficient on a project-based assessment or who face extenuating circumstances. If a chief school administrator is considering granting waivers to more than 10% of a graduating class who were not proficient on a project-based assessment, the school district is required to engage in self-reflection to identify improvements that will be made to the courses associated with the content that served as the basis for the waivers. The improvements shall be presented to the Secretary for approval in an action plan.

 8) Incorporates provisions of a policy statement approved by the Board in November 2010 providing an alternate pathway to proficiency for career and technical education (CTE) students. The alternate pathway previously approved by the Board was recommended by a stakeholders' advisory committee convened by the Department as required under Chapter 4 to explore this matter. The final-form rulemaking requires CTE students to demonstrate proficiency in the content areas required for Federal accountability either on a Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment and allows CTE students to meet other State graduation requirements by achieving a score of competent or advanced on an occupational skills assessment.

 9) Reorganizes § 4.51 (relating to State assessment system) into discrete sections that address State Assessment, PSSA, Keystone Exams, Project-Based Assessment and Waivers to make the regulation more easily understandable to the regulated community.

 10) Provides clarity pertaining to the information required to be included on student transcripts. The final-form rulemaking requires performance levels (advanced, proficient, basic or below basic) in subjects assessed by a Keystone Exam to be reported on student transcripts beginning in the 2016-2017 school year. The inclusion of performance levels, as opposed to reporting scale scores, provides the clearest means of communicating whether a student met graduation requirements to members of the higher education community and employers. A transcript must include the highest performance level demonstrated either on a Keystone Exam, locally validated assessment or project-based assessment.

Summary of Technical Changes to the Final-Form Rulemaking

 In proofreading Annex A, the Board identified technical and typographical errors. The Board identified typographical errors in citations and made technical changes to reference the appropriate sections in the following provisions: § 4.12(h) (relating to academic standards) incorrectly referenced subsection (g) and is revised to appropriately reference subsection (f); § 4.20(5) (relating to prekindergarten education) incorrectly referenced § 4.52(d) (relating to local assessment system) and is corrected to reference § 4.52(b); § 4.20(6) incorrectly referenced § 49.85(c) (relating to limitations) and is corrected to reference § 49.85(e); § 4.20(11)(iii) incorrectly referenced § 49.85(a) and is corrected to reference § 49.85 in its entirety; final-form § 4.24(c)(1)(iii)(B)(III) (relating to high school graduation requirements) incorrectly referenced subsection (e) and is corrected to reference subsection (g); final-form § 4.24(m) incorrectly referenced subsections (a) and (b) and is corrected to reference subsections (b) and (c); § 4.31(a) (relating to vocational-technical education) incorrectly referenced § 4.24(f) and is corrected to reference § 4.24(g).

 The Board also made the following technical changes to the final-form rulemaking:

 • ''Chief school administrator'' is used in § 4.33(b) (relating to advisory committees) and § 4.51(d), but was undefined. The Board included a definition for ''chief school administrator'' in § 4.3 (relating to definitions) based on the definition in section 1301-A of the School Code (24 P. S. § 13-1301-A).

 • In § 4.12(a)(3)(v), the Board made a technical correction to replace the heading of this subparagraph with ''appendix.''

 • In § 4.13(d) (relating to strategic plans), the Board added ''for approval'' for consistency with the requirement for approval of strategic plans established by § 14.104(f) (relating to special education plans).

 • Section 4.21(a) (relating to elementary education: primary and intermediate levels) was revised to incorporate the phrase ''including charter schools.''

 • In final-form § 4.24(c)(1)(ii), ''and'' was revised to the more appropriate term ''or'' as it pertains to the applicable sections identified at the end of the provision. Likewise, in final-form § 4.24(g), ''and'' was revised to the more appropriate term ''or'' in reference to the entities that may issue a diploma to recognize that only one entity would grant this credential.

 • The word ''district'' in final-form § 4.24(c)(1)(iii) (B)(VI) was changed to ''school entity'' to make it clear that the section applies to school districts, AVTSs and charter schools.

 • Final-form § 4.24(f) was revised to identify the Pennsylvania State skills assessments referred to in the section, which are currently referenced in other parts of Chapter 4.

 • In § 4.51c(d) (relating to project-based assessment), the Board added ''or module'' to read, ''after at least two attempts on the exam or module,'' for consistency with the beginning of that same provision, which references a ''Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module.''

 • The Board added the clarifying phrase ''that students achieve proficiency on the Keystone Exams'' to § 4.51c(f).

 • The Board updated § 4.51d(2) and (3) (relating to waivers) to use the term ''granted'' related to waivers, rather than ''requested'' or ''issued,'' which is a more clear term and brings consistency throughout the sections inasmuch as § 4.51d(2) begins with ''is considering granting.''

 • The Board made a technical revision to § 4.52(e) to include a reference to cyber charter schools.

Summary of Public Comment and Responses to Proposed Rulemaking

 The proposed rulemaking was published at 42 Pa.B. 6365 and was available on the Department's web site at www.education.state.pa.us. The Board accepted formal written comments during a 30-day public comment period that began upon publication of the proposed rulemaking. The Board received written comments directly from 146 individuals and organizations during the official 30-day public comment period that followed publication of the proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Rather than provide a lengthy listing of the organizations and comments and responses in the preamble, the Board prepared a separate document that outlines the comments and the Board's response, which is incorporated by reference. Notification of the availability of this document was sent to each commentator and is posted on the Board's web page on the Department's web site at www.education.state.pa.us.

Affected Parties

 The final-form rulemaking will affect public school districts, AVTSs, and charter and cyber charter schools in this Commonwealth and their employees and students. It also will affect the Department.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

 New provisions and amendments in the final-form rulemaking do not increase costs for the Commonwealth or local governments inasmuch as that they are accomplishing the policy choices set forth when the Keystone Exams were added to Chapter 4 at 40 Pa.B. 240. While the Commonwealth will incur costs for the development and administration of Keystone Exams, these are not new costs imposed by this final-form rulemaking. The requirement to develop and administer ten Keystone Exams was established in the final-form rulemaking published at 40 Pa.B. 240, which was submitted to the House Education Committee, Senate Education Committee and IRRC for review prior to its enactment, and which remains a requirement of Chapter 4. Further, section 121 of the School Code directs the Department, subject to annual appropriations, to develop and implement Keystone Exams in the following subjects by the 2020-2021 school year: Algebra I, Literature, Biology, English Composition, Algebra II, Geometry, United States History, Chemistry, Civics and Government, and World History.

 It is important also to note that, while the Commonwealth will incur a cost to administer Keystone Exams, during the 2012-13 school year the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Biology and Literature replaced the eleventh grade PSSA as the Commonweath's uniform measure of accountability at the high school level. Therefore, the Commonwealth no longer bears costs associated with the eleventh grade PSSA. Further, test development to refresh item banks regarding State assessments is part of the ongoing work of State government and is not a new cost imposed by the final-form rulemaking.

 The Commonwealth will also experience savings with this final-form rulemaking through the elimination of the mandate for districts to submit strategic plans. However, these savings are difficult to quantify. The Commonwealth will experience further savings by not incurring future costs to develop project-based assessments aligned to the five Keystone Exams that would be developed for voluntary use by school districts.

 Additionally, the final-form rulemaking provides some relief to school districts by paring the number of Keystone Exams developed to assess proficiency for graduation from ten to five and, in effect, removing the mandate to provide supplemental instruction and to administer associated project-based assessments in the five Keystone Exams that would be made available on a voluntary basis. Further, Keystone Exams in subjects other than those required for accountability purposes (Algebra I, Biology and Literature) would be developed subject to funding being made available by the General Assembly.

 The final-form rulemaking also requires school entities to publish and distribute to students, parents and guardians copies of graduation requirements and to post graduation requirements on each school entity's public web site. This information sharing can be accomplished by publishing graduation requirements in student handbooks or by distributing graduation requirements in tandem with other information that is already legally required to be provided to students, parents and guardians, such as student codes of conduct. Therefore, the cost associated with publishing and distributing graduation requirements is negligible.

 The elimination of the State-mandated submittal of strategic plans and the deletion of the ''culminating project'' graduation requirement in the 2016-2017 school year also would reduce costs for school districts. The extent of these savings would vary from district to district and is estimated at $35 million Statewide.

Effective Date

 The final-form rulemaking will become effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Sunset Date

 The Board will review the effectiveness of Chapter 4 every 4 years in accordance with the Board's policy and practice respecting all of its regulations. Therefore, a sunset date is not necessary.

Regulatory Review

 Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(a)), on September 20, 2012, the Board submitted a copy of the notice of proposed rulemaking, published at 42 Pa.B. 6365, to IRRC and the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Committees on Education for review and comment.

 Under section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC and the House and Senate Committees were provided with copies of the comments received during the public comment period, as well as other documents when requested. In preparing the final-form rulemaking, the Department has considered all comments from IRRC, the House and Senate Committees and the public.

 Under section 5.1(j.2) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5a(j.2)), on November 20, 2013, the final-form rulemaking was (deemed) approved by the House and Senate Committees. Under section 5.1(e) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC met on November 21, 2013, and approved the final-form rulemaking.

 The Office of Attorney General (OAG) approved the final-form rulemaking as to form and legality on February 11, 2014. However, under section 8(b) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.8(b)), the OAG directed the Board to add in § 4.51b a sentence stating that subsection (a) is a continuation of § 4.51(f), which is referenced in section 102 of the School Code (24 P. S. § 1-102). The Board added the statement to § 4.51b(a) in accord with the OAG's direction and section 8(b) of the Regulatory Review Act.

Contact Person

 The official responsible for information on this final-form rulemaking is Larry Wittig, Chairperson, State Board of Education, 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333, (717) 787-3787, (717) 787-7367 (TDD).

Findings

 The Board finds that:

 (1) Public notice of the intention to adopt this final-form rulemaking was given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.

 (2) A public comment period was provided as required by law and all comments were considered.

 (3) The final-form rulemaking is necessary and appropriate for the administration of the School Code.

Order

 The Board, acting under the authorizing statute, orders that:

 (a) The regulations of the Board, 22 Pa. Code Chapter 4, are amended by adding §§ 4.51a—4.51d and Appendix A-2 deleting Appendix A-1 and amending §§ 4.2—4.4, 4.11—4.13, 4.20—4.24, 4.31, 4.33, 4.51, 4.52 and 4.61 and Appendices B and C to read as set forth in Annex A, with ellipses referring to the existing text of the regulations.

 (Editor's Note: The amendment to § 4.2 was not included in the proposed rulemaking published at 42 Pa.B. 6365. Final-form §§ 4.51a—4.51d were shown as proposed amendments to § 4.51 in the proposed rulemaking.)

 (b) The Chairperson will submit this order and Annex A to the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Attorney General for review and approval as to legality and form as required by law.

 (c) The Chairperson of the Board shall certify this order and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

 (d) This order is effective upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

KAREN MOLCHANOW, 
Executive Director

 (Editor's Note: For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 43 Pa.B. 7196 (December 7, 2013).)

Fiscal Note: 6-326. No fiscal impact. The costs associated with implementing the Keystone Exams were detailed in Regulation 6-312 and are built into the PA Assessment appropriation. There are no new costs associated with this final-form rulemaking. (8) Recommends adoption.

Annex A

TITLE 22. EDUCATION

PART I. STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

CHAPTER 4. ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENT

GENERAL PROVISIONS

§ 4.2. Purpose.

 The purpose of this chapter is to establish rigorous academic standards and assessments, applicable only to the public schools in this Commonwealth, to facilitate the improvement of student achievement and to provide parents and communities a measure by which school performance can be determined.

§ 4.3. Definitions.

 The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

AVTS—Area vocational-technical school—A public school that provides vocational-technical education to secondary school students, out-of-school youth and adults in a geographical area comprised and operated by one or more school districts and established under sections 1840—1853 of the School Code (24 P. S. §§ 18-1840— 18-1853).

Academic standard—What a student should know and be able to do at a specified grade level.

Apprenticeship program—A competency-based program that coordinates and integrates classroom instruction with a structured work-based employment experience designed for students.

Assessment—A valid and reliable measurement of student performance on a set of academic standards in a subject area that captures student understanding of the set as a whole and the central concepts, knowledge and skills of each content area.

Board—The State Board of Education established under sections 2601-B—2606-B of the School Code (24 P. S. §§ 26-2601-B—26-2606-B).

Chief school administrator—The superintendent of a school district, the superintendent of an AVTS or the chief executive officer of a charter school.

Cooperative vocational-technical education—A planned method of instruction developed through a signed cooperative arrangement among school representatives, students, parents and employers in the community to provide students with an opportunity to alternate in-school academic and vocational-technical instruction in entry-level paid employment in an occupational field, in which the student's total occupational work experience is planned, coordinated and supervised by the school in close cooperation with the employer.

Curriculum—A series of planned instruction aligned with the academic standards in each subject that is coordinated and articulated and implemented in a manner designed to result in the achievement at the proficient level by all students.

Department—The Department of Education of the Commonwealth.

ESOL—English to speakers of other languages.

Employment area—A geographic area where vocational-technical education program completers are most likely to be employed.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act—20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1400—1482.

Intermediate unit—A regional educational service agency established under sections 951—974 of the School Code (24 P. S. §§ 9-951—9-974), which provides educational services to participating school districts as part of the public school system of this Commonwealth.

Keystone Exams—State-developed end-of-course exams. Designated exams will be used to determine, in part, a student's eligibility for high school graduation.

Local Assessment Validation Advisory Committee—An advisory committee established by the Department composed of up to two representatives each from the Department and Board, four representatives from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and up to four additional members who are jointly selected by the Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to develop the criteria for the local validation process and criteria for selection of approved validation entities.

NOCTI—National Occupational Competency Testing Institute.

PSSA—Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

Parent or guardian—A person legally responsible for a student's care.

Pennsylvania Core Standards—Academic standards for English language arts and mathematics based upon a Nationwide, state-led process coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and in collaboration with teachers, content experts and other education stakeholders. The standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in work-force training programs.

Performance Level Advisory Committee—An advisory committee established by the Department to assist the Department in developing Keystone Exam performance level descriptors and performance level cut scores. The Committee includes teachers, principals, school administrators, school board members, higher education officials, representatives of the United States Armed Forces, employers and others with at least 1/2 of its members selected from nominations made by Statewide teachers' unions and other education stakeholder organizations.

Planned instruction—Instruction offered by a school entity based upon a written plan to enable students to achieve the academic standards under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards) and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity.

Prekindergarten—A program operated by a school district or by a community agency under contract from a school district that is open to children who are at least 3 years of age and completed prior to the school district's entry age for kindergarten.

School Code—The Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. §§ 1-101—27-2702).

School entity—A local public education provider (for example, public school district, charter school, cyber charter school, AVTS or intermediate unit).

School organization—The organization of a school district's programs into kindergarten, primary, intermediate level, middle level and high school programs, including programs operated at AVTSs.

Secretary—The Secretary of Education of the Commonwealth.

State assessment—A valid and reliable measurement of student performance on a set of academic standards as measured by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment or the Keystone Exams.

State Assessment Validation Advisory Committee—An advisory committee established by the Department to advise it on its plans to conduct a validity study of the Keystone Exams and review and provide feedback on study findings. The Committee is composed of up to two representatives each from the Department, Board, Pennsylvania State Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-Pennsylvania and up to four additional members who are jointly selected by the Committee.

Tech-prep program—A combined secondary and postsecondary program which leads to an associate degree or certificate and employment by providing technical preparation in engineering technology, applied science, mechanical, industrial or practical art or trade, agriculture, health or business, including development of competence in mathematics, science and communications through a sequential course of study.

Vocational-technical education—Programs under public supervision and control which provide an organized process of learning experiences designed to develop integrated academic and occupational skills, knowledge, attitudes, work habits and leadership ability for entry into and advancement within various levels of employment in occupational areas of agriculture, business, marketing and distribution, health, home economics and trade and industry and for participation in postsecondary education and training.

§ 4.4. General policies.

 (a) It is the policy of the Board that the local curriculum be designed by school entities to achieve the academic standards under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards) and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity.

 (b) It is the policy of the Board that local school entities have the greatest possible flexibility in curriculum planning consistent with providing quality education and in compliance with the School Code, including requirements for courses to be taught (24 P. S. §§ 15-1501 and 16-1605); subjects to be taught in the English language (24 P. S. § 15-1511); courses adapted to the age, development and needs of the pupils (24 P. S. § 15-1512); minimum school year of 180 days and minimum of 900 hours of instruction at the elementary level and 990 hours of instruction at the secondary level (24 P. S. §§ 15-1501 and 15-1504); employment of sufficient numbers of qualified professional employees (24 P. S. § 11-1106) and superintendents to enforce the curriculum requirements of State law (24 P. S. § 10-1005); and this part.

 (c) Access to educational programs shall be provided without discrimination on the basis of a student's race, sex, color, religion, disability, sexual orientation or national origin.

 (d) School entities shall adopt policies to assure that parents or guardians have the following:

 (1) Access to information about the curriculum, including academic standards to be achieved, instructional materials and assessment techniques.

 (2) A process for the review of instructional materials.

 (3) The right to have their children excused from specific instruction that conflicts with their religious beliefs, upon receipt by the school entity of a written request from the parent or guardians.

 (4) The right to review a State assessment in the school entity during convenient hours for parents and guardians, at least 2 weeks prior to their administration, to determine whether a State assessment conflicts with their religious belief. To protect the validity and integrity of the State assessments, each school entity shall have in place procedures to be followed when parents or guardians request to view any State assessment. Procedures must be consistent with guidance provided by the Department in its assessment administration instructions. If upon inspection of a State assessment parents or guardians find the assessment to be in conflict with their religious belief and wish their students to be excused from the assessment, the right of the parents or guardians will not be denied upon written request that states the objection to the applicable school district superintendent, charter school chief executive officer or AVTS director.

 (5) The right to have their children excluded from research studies or surveys conducted by entities other than a school entity unless prior written consent has been obtained.

 (e) The Department will provide support to school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, in developing educational programs that enable students to attain academic standards under § 4.12. Department support will include:

 (1) Establishment of a voluntary model curriculum and diagnostic supports aligned with State academic standards in each of the content areas assessed by the Keystone Exams under § 4.51b(i) and (j) (relating to Keystone Exams).

 (2) Assistance in the development of effective student tutoring, remediation and extended instructional time programs.

 (3) Opportunities for continuing professional education designed to improve instruction in each of the content areas assessed by the Keystone Exams under § 4.51b(i) and (j).

 (4) Technical guidance in developing local assessments that meet the requirements of § 4.24(c)(1)(iii)(B) (relating to high school graduation requirements), upon request.

 (f) The Department may not, and the Board will not, require school entities to utilize a Statewide curriculum or Statewide reading lists.

ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND PLANNING

§ 4.11. Purpose of public education.

 (a) This section and § 4.12 (relating to academic standards) describe the purpose of public education and its relationship with the academic standards.

 (b) Public education prepares students for adult life by attending to their intellectual and developmental needs and challenging them to achieve at their highest level possible. In conjunction with families and other community institutions, public education prepares students to become self-directed, life-long learners and responsible, involved citizens.

 (c) Together with parents, families and community institutions, public education provides opportunities for students to:

 (1) Acquire knowledge and skills.

 (2) Develop integrity.

 (3) Process information.

 (4) Think critically.

 (5) Work independently.

 (6) Collaborate with others.

 (7) Adapt to change.

 (d) The academic standards describe the knowledge and skills that students will be expected to demonstrate before graduating from a public school.

 (e) Achievement of high academic standards in public education is dependent upon the quality of instruction in schools and student effort supported by the involvement of family and community.

 (f) Assessment in public education is designed to determine student attainment of State and local academic standards.

 (g) Public schools provide instruction throughout the curriculum so that students may develop knowledge and skills in the following areas:

 (1) English language arts.

 (2) Mathematics.

 (3) Science and technology.

 (4) Environment and ecology.

 (5) Social studies (civics and government, geography, economics and history).

 (6) Arts and humanities.

 (7) Career education and work.

 (8) Health, safety and physical education.

 (9) Family and consumer science.

 (h) Public education provides planned instruction to enable students to attain academic standards under § 4.12. Planned instruction consists of at least the following elements:

 (1) Objectives of a planned course, instructional unit or interdisciplinary studies to be achieved by all students.

 (2) Content, including materials and activities, and estimated instructional time to be devoted to achieving the academic standards. Courses, instructional units or interdisciplinary studies of varying lengths of time may be taught.

 (3) The relationship between the objectives of a planned course, instructional unit or interdisciplinary studies and academic standards specified under § 4.12 and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity.

 (4) Procedures for measurement of the objectives of a planned course, instructional unit or interdisciplinary studies.

§ 4.12. Academic standards.

 (a) School entities may develop, expand or improve existing academic standards in the following content areas:

 (1) Science and technology. Study of the natural world and facts, principles, theories and laws in the areas of biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences. Technology is the application of science to enable societal development, including food and fiber production, manufacturing, building, transportation and communication. Science and technology share the use of the senses, science processes, inquiry, investigation, analysis and problem solving strategies. The Pennsylvania Core Standards for Reading in Science and Technology and the Pennsylvania Core Standards for Writing in Science and Technology will be an appendix to the Commonwealth's academic standards for Science and Technology upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

 (2) Environment and ecology. Understanding the components of ecological systems and their interrelationships with social systems and technologies. These components incorporate the disciplines of resource management, agricultural diversity, government and the impact of human actions on natural systems. This interaction leads to the study of watersheds, threatened and endangered species, pest management and the development of laws and regulations.

 (3) Social studies.

 (i) History. Study of the record of human experience including important events; interactions of culture, race and ideas; the nature of prejudice; change and continuity in political systems; effects of technology; importance of global-international perspectives; and the integration of geography, economics and civics studies on major developments in the history of the Commonwealth, the United States and the world.

 (ii) Geography. Study of relationships among people, places and environments, of geographic tools and methods, characteristics of place, concept of region and physical processes.

 (iii) Civics and government. Study of United States constitutional democracy, its values and principles, study of the Constitution of the Commonwealth and government including the study of principles, operations and documents of government, the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, how governments work and international relations.

 (iv) Economics. Study of how individuals and societies choose to use resources to produce, distribute and consume goods and services. Knowledge of how economies work, economic reasoning and basic economic concepts, economic decision making, economic systems, the Commonwealth and the United States economy and international trade.

 (v) Appendix. The Pennsylvania Core Standards for Reading in History and Social Studies and the Pennsylvania Core Standards in Writing for History and Social Studies will be an appendix to the Commonwealth's academic standards for History upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

 (4) Arts and humanities. Study of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, language and literature including forms of expression, historical and cultural context, critical and aesthetic judgment and production, performance or exhibition of work.

 (5) Career education and work. Understanding career options in relationship to individual interests, aptitudes and skills including the relationship between changes in society, technology, government and economy and their effect on individuals and careers. Development of knowledge and skill in job-seeking and job-retaining skills and, for students completing vocational-technical programs, the skills to succeed in the occupation for which they are prepared.

 (6) Health, safety and physical education. Study of concepts and skills which affect personal, family and community health and safety, nutrition, physical fitness, movement concepts and strategies, safety in physical activity settings, and leadership and cooperation in physical activities.

 (7) Family and consumer science. Understanding the role of consumers as a foundation for managing available resources to provide for personal and family needs and to provide basic knowledge of child health and child care skills.

 (8) Through June 30, 2013: Reading, writing, speaking and listening.

 (i) Reading. The application of phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, vocabulary, fluency and text comprehension in reading critically across subject areas; the interpretation and analysis of literary expression with analysis of the origins and structures of the English language and learning how to search a variety of texts to conduct research.

 (ii) Writing. Narrative, informational and persuasive formal writing for an audience, including spelling and editing skills; and informal writing to capture and organize information for individual use.

 (iii) Speaking and listening. Participation in conversation and formal speaking presentations.

 (iv) English Language Arts. Upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, following full implementation of a transition plan to be developed by the Department in collaboration with education stakeholders, academic standards will be based on the Pennsylvania Core Standards for English Language Arts.

 (9) Mathematics. The understanding of fundamental ideas and the development of proficient mathematical skills in numbers, computation, measurement, statistics and data analysis, probability and predictions, algebra and functions, geometry, trigonometry and concepts of calculus. Using this content, students will learn to think, reason and communicate mathematically. Students will learn to model real-world situations by creating appropriate representations of numerical quantities and plan and implement problem-solving strategies to answer the question in the context of the situation. Upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, following implementation of a transition plan to be developed by the Department in collaboration with education stakeholders, academic standards will be based on the Pennsylvania Core Standards for Mathematics.

 (b) In designing educational programs, school entities shall provide for the attainment of the academic standards under subsections (a) and (c) and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity. Attaining the academic standards in this section requires students to demonstrate the acquisition and application of knowledge.

 (c) School entities shall prepare students to attain academic standards in mathematics and English Language Arts in Appendix A-2 and incorporated here by reference and additional standards as may be adopted by the Board and promulgated as amendments to this chapter.

 (d) A school entity's curriculum shall be designed to provide students with planned instruction needed to attain these academic standards.

 (e) School entities shall apply academic standards for students in all areas described under subsections (a) and (c). The local assessment plan under § 4.52 (relating to local assessment system) must include a description of how the academic standards will be measured and how information from the assessments is used to assist students having difficulty meeting the academic standards.

 (f) School entities shall assess the attainment of academic standards developed under subsections (a) and (c) and any other academic standards that they develop under § 4.52(c) for purposes of high school graduation and strategies for assisting students to attain them. Plans for assessment developed by school entities must take into account that academic standards in subsections (a) and (c) may be attained by students in various ways and shall be assessed in various ways. Children with disabilities may attain the academic standards by completion of their individualized education programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part.

 (g) In planning any revision of the academic standards in subsection (a) content areas, the Secretary will consult with educators, business and community leaders and parents.

 (h) School entities are responsible under subsections (a), (c) and (f) for assessing individual student attainment of academic standards and for assisting those students having difficulty attaining them. Upon request by a school entity, the Department will provide the requestor with technical assistance in the development of academic standards and assessments that are sufficient to assure that students are making progress toward the attainment of standards required for high school graduation under subsection (f).

 (i) Every 3 years, the Board will review the State academic standards and State assessments under this section to determine if they are appropriate, clear, specific and challenging, and will make revisions as necessary by revising this chapter.

 (j) The Department may not expand the collection of student data and, in accordance with section 444 of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g), regarding family educational and privacy rights, may not collect personal family data due to the implementation of Pennsylvania Core Standards in Appendix A-2.

§ 4.13. Strategic plans.

 (a) Upon expiration of its current strategic planning phase, each school entity shall submit to the Secretary for approval a professional education plan every 3 years as required under § 49.17(a) (relating to continuing professional education). A school entity shall make its professional education plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school entity's governing board and submission of the plan to the Secretary.

 (b) Upon expiration of its current strategic planning phase, each school entity shall submit to the Department for approval an induction plan every 6 years as required under § 49.16(a) (relating to approval of induction plans). A school entity shall make its induction plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school entity's governing board and submission of the plan to the Department.

 (c) Upon expiration of its current strategic planning phase, each school entity shall develop and implement a comprehensive and integrated K-12 program of student services based on the needs of its students every 6 years as provided in § 12.41(a) (relating to student services). A school entity shall make its student services plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school entity's governing board.

 (d) Upon expiration of its current strategic planning phase, each school district shall develop, submit to the Department for approval and implement a special education plan every 3 years as required under § 14.104 (relating to special education plans). A school district shall make its special education plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school district's board of directors and submission of the plan to the Department.

 (e) Upon expiration of its current strategic planning phase, each school district shall develop and implement a gifted education plan every 6 years as required under § 16.4 (relating to strategic plans). A school district shall make its gifted education plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school district's board of directors.

CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTION

§ 4.20. Prekindergarten education.

 School districts are not required to offer a prekindergarten program, and parents are not required to enroll their children in those programs if offered. Prekindergarten programs shall be designed so that students complete the program prior to their reaching the school district's entry age for kindergarten. The program, when offered, must provide a comprehensive program appropriate for the age and varying developmental levels of the students; be based on how young children develop and learn; include instruction to support each child's development in the areas of approaches to learning—creative expression, language and literacy, math, logic and science, social-personal development and physical development and health—and must be open to children with disabilities.

 (1) The Secretary will provide academic standards, appropriate for early learning at the prekindergarten level, as guidance for the use of school districts that offer prekindergarten programs.

 (2) Curriculum and instruction in the prekindergarten program must be standards-based.

 (3) Prekindergarten programs may be offered to all 3 and 4 year olds or may be targeted to children who are most in need of prekindergarten services who reside in the district. Targeted programs may serve children who are at risk of school failure because of limited English proficiency, community factors, economic disadvantage, but may not exclude or be limited exclusively to children with disabilities. If a program is limited to an attendance area, children with disabilities must live in that attendance area to participate in the program. An attendance area is the geographic area within a school district designated by the school board for the purpose of assigning students to a school.

 (4) The Secretary will issue guidance to school districts on developmentally appropriate curriculum, instruction and assessments for prekindergarten.

 (5) Each school district that provides prekindergarten shall design an assessment system that includes prekindergarten and uses a variety of assessment strategies, which may include those listed in § 4.52(b) (relating to local assessment system), as appropriate.

 (6) Prekindergarten programs must have a student/teacher ratio of no more than 20 students for one teacher and one teacher aide in a classroom (2 adults in a classroom for every 20 students). Programs of high quality ordinarily have a student/teacher ratio of 17 students for one teacher and one teacher aide in a classroom (2 adults for every 17 students). Programs operating under contract with community providers must comply with staffing qualifications as required by § 49.85(e) (relating to limitations).

 (7) Beginning in the 2009-2010 school year, a teacher aide in a prekindergarten program shall meet one of the following criteria:

 (i) Completion of at least 2 years of postsecondary study.

 (ii) Possession of an associate's degree or higher.

 (iii) Ability to meet a rigorous standard of quality and demonstration through a formal State or local academic assessment of knowledge in and ability to assist in instructing reading, writing and mathematics. A rigorous standard of quality includes a demonstration of competence in basic literacy skills, including the ability to speak and write standard English and instruction of prekindergarten students in the acquisition of the knowledge, skills and abilities described in the early learning standards issued under paragraph (1).

 (8) The Secretary may approve a meritorious prekindergarten program that does not meet all regulatory requirements for the program when, in the Secretary's judgment, the program provides high quality learning opportunities for students and meets the following conditions:

 (i) The school district has submitted to the Secretary a written request that provides justification for the waiver and includes a description of how the meritorious program will provide high quality learning opportunities for students.

 (ii) The approval of the meritorious prekindergarten program is valid only for 1 school year.

 (iii) Requests for renewals include evidence of positive student outcomes.

 (9) A school district may make individual exceptions to the age of prekindergarten students based upon local policy to permit the enrollment of children under 3 years of age and 5 years of age or older.

 (10) A school district planning to offer or contract with a community agency to offer a prekindergarten program shall develop an implementation plan that describes the program and its target population. The plan must identify the facilities, staffing needs and other resources that it will use to deliver the program. The school district shall consult with parents, community agencies and organizations, and child care, early intervention and head start representatives when developing the implementation plan. In years subsequent to the initial year of the program, the implementation plan must be submitted to the Department every 3 years or when the plan is amended, whichever is sooner. A school district shall make the implementation plan available for public inspection and comment for a minimum of 28 days prior to approval of the plan by the school district's board of directors and submission of the plan to the Department.

 (11) School district contracted prekindergarten programs operated by a community provider shall provide a lead teacher for each classroom who meets the following minimum qualifications:

 (i) An associate's degree or greater in early childhood education or child development.

 (ii) For programs operating before December 16, 2006, lead teachers shall possess a bachelor's degree and early childhood certificate as provided in § 49.85(a) on or before December 16, 2011.

 (iii) For programs contracted after December 16, 2006, lead teachers shall possess a bachelor's degree and early childhood certificate as provided in § 49.85 within 5 years from the date students first attend the prekindergarten program.

§ 4.21. Elementary education: primary and intermediate levels.

 (a) The primary program shall ordinarily be completed by children who are approximately 8 years of age. School districts, including charter schools, shall provide opportunities for individualized rates of learning and social and emotional development that reflect differing rates of development and learning styles of young children.

*  *  *  *  *

 (i) School districts, including charter schools, shall determine the most appropriate way to operate their primary and intermediate level elementary programs to achieve the purposes under subsections (b) and (d) and any mission, goals and academic standards as determined by the school entity.

 (j) Students who have not achieved proficiency in reading and mathematics during their primary grades (K-3), as determined by the school entity, shall be afforded additional instructional opportunities through a grade-level learning plan developed by the school entity. The plan will assist the student in acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve at the proficient level. Assessments to measure proficiency shall be described in the local assessment system under § 4.52 (relating to local assessment system).

 (k) Students who have not achieved proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of grade 5 as determined on State assessments under § 4.51a (relating to Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) shall be afforded instructional opportunities to develop knowledge and skills necessary to achieve the proficient level.

§ 4.22. Middle level education.

 (a) The middle level planned instruction aligned with academic standards serves children who are approximately 11—14 years of age. School entities may modify the grouping of students based upon student needs identified by the school entity.

*  *  *  *  *

 (e) School entities shall determine the most appropriate way to operate their middle level programs to achieve the purposes under subsection (b) and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity.

§ 4.23. High school education.

*  *  *  *  *

 (g) School districts, including a charter school, shall determine the most appropriate way to operate their high school programs to achieve the purposes under subsection (a) and any additional academic standards as determined by the school entity.

§ 4.24. High school graduation requirements.

 (a) Approval. High school graduation requirements and revisions to them shall be approved by a school entity's governing board by September 2, 2014, and a copy of the requirements shall be published and distributed to students, parents and guardians. Copies of the requirements also shall be available in each school building or on each school entity's publicly accessible web site. Changes to high school graduation requirements shall be published and distributed to students, parents and guardians and made available in each school building or on each school entity's publicly accessible web site immediately following approval by the governing board.

 (b) Requirements through the 2015-2016 school year. Each school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) and AVTS, if applicable, shall specify requirements for graduation. Requirements through the 2015-2016 school year must include course completion and grades, completion of a culminating project, results of local assessments aligned with the academic standards and a demonstration of proficiency in English Language Arts and Mathematics on either the State assessments administered in grade 11 or 12 or local assessments aligned with academic standards and State assessments under § 4.52 (relating to local assessment system) at the proficient level or better to graduate. The purpose of the culminating project is to assure that students are able to apply, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information and communicate significant knowledge and understanding.

 (c) Requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.

 (1) General. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, each school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) and AVTS, if applicable, shall adopt and implement requirements for high school graduation that, at minimum, include:

 (i) Course completion and grades.

 (ii) Demonstration of proficiency as determined by the school district, charter school (including a cyber charter school) or AVTS, if applicable, in each of the State academic standards not assessed by a State assessment under § 4.51, § 4.51a or § 4.51b (relating to State assessment system; Pennsylvania System of School Assessment; and Keystone Exams).

 (iii) Demonstration of proficiency or above in each of the following State academic standards: English Language Arts and Mathematics (Appendix A-2); Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology (Appendix B), as determined through any one or a combination of the following:

 (A) Completion of secondary level coursework in English Language Arts (Literature), Algebra I and Biology in which a student demonstrates proficiency on the associated Keystone Exam or related project-based assessment if § 4.4(d)(4) (relating to general policies) applies.

 (I) A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall allow a student to take a Keystone Exam prior to taking the course associated with the exam's content provided that the student achieved a score of advanced on the most recent associated PSSA assessment administered to the student.

 (II) A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall allow a student who transfers from another state to take a Keystone Exam prior to taking the course associated with the exam's content, provided that the student achieved a score comparable to the PSSA's advanced performance level on a comparable assessment administered by another state.

 (III) A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, may allow a student who scores at the advanced level on a particular Keystone Exam prior to taking the course to be granted course credit for the course without having to complete the course.

 (B) Locally approved and administered assessments, which shall be independently and objectively validated once every 6 years. Local assessments may be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies listed in § 4.52(c) and may include the use of one or more Keystone Exams. Except for replacement of individual test items that have a similar level of difficulty, a new validation is required for any material changes to the assessment. Validated local assessments must meet the following standards:

 (I) Alignment with the following State academic standards: English Language Arts (Literature and Composition); Mathematics (Algebra I), Science and Technology, Environment and Ecology (Biology), and Civics and Government.

 (II) Performance level expectations and descriptors that describe the level of performance required to achieve proficiency comparable to that used for the Keystone Exams.

 (III) Administration of the local assessment to all students, as a requirement for graduation, except for those exempted by their individualized education program under subsection (g), regarding special education students, or gifted individualized education plan as provided in § 16.32 (relating to GIEP).

 (IV) Subject to appropriations provided by law, the cost to validate local assessments shall be evenly divided between the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, and the Department. If the Department does not provide sufficient funding to meet its share, local assessments submitted for validation shall be deemed valid until a new validation is due to the Department.

 (V) The Department will establish a list of entities approved to perform independent validations of local assessments in consultation with the Local Assessment Validation Advisory Committee as provided in § 4.52(f).

 (VI)  School boards shall only approve assessments that have been determined to meet the requirements of this subsection by an approved entity performing the independent validation. If a school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, uses a local assessment that has not been independently validated, the Secretary will direct the school entity to discontinue its use until the local assessment is approved through independent validation by an approved entity.

 (C) Completion of an Advanced Placement exam or International Baccalaureate exam that includes academic content comparable to the appropriate Keystone Exam at a score established by the Secretary to be comparable to the proficient level on the appropriate Keystone Exam.

 (d) Requirements beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Effective with the 2018-2019 school year, requirements in subsection (c)(1)(iii) must include a determination of proficiency in English Language Arts (Composition) (Appendix A-2).

 (e) Requirements beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. Effective with the 2019-2020 school year, Civics and Government (Appendix C) is added to the academic standards in subsection (c)(1)(iii). The requirements in subsection (c)(1)(iii) must include a determination of proficiency in Civics and Government.

 (f)  Career and technical education program students. A student enrolled in a Department-approved career and technical education program may satisfy the requirements of subsections (d) and (e) upon completion of secondary level coursework in English Language Arts (Literature), Algebra I and Biology, in which a student demonstrates proficiency on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment, and achieves a score of competent or advanced on a Pennsylvania State Skills Assessment required under § 4.31(a) (relating to vocational-technical education).

 (g) Special education students. Children with disabilities who satisfactorily complete a special education program developed by an Individualized Education Program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part shall be granted and issued a regular high school diploma by the school district of residence, charter school (including cyber charter school) or AVTS, if applicable. This subsection applies if the special education program of a child with a disability does not otherwise meet the requirements of this chapter.

 (h) Demonstration of proficiency. For purposes of this section, a student shall be deemed proficient in the State-assessed standards whenever the student demonstrates proficiency through any of the options in subsection (c)(1)(iii), regardless of the student's grade level or age.

 (i) Transcripts. Beginning in the 2003-2004 school year, and through the 2012-2013 school year, PSSA scores in each assessed discipline shall be included on student transcripts. Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the performance level demonstrated in each of the academic standards in subsections (c)—(e) shall be included on student transcripts. The information presented on a transcript must include the highest performance level demonstrated by a student on the associated Keystone Exam, validated local assessment or project-based assessment at the time the transcript is produced.

 (j) Release of scores. This section does not allow for the release of individual student PSSA or Keystone Exam scores to the Department or other Commonwealth entities in accordance with § 4.51(f) and (g).

 (k) Supplemental instruction. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, a student who does not demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam or a locally validated assessment specified in subsection (c), (d) or (e) shall be offered supplemental instructional support by the student's school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school. The supplemental instructional support must be consistent with the student's educational program and assist the student to attain proficiency in the State academic standards.

 (l) Out-of-state transfers. A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall determine whether a student who transfers from an out-of-State school having demonstrated proficiency in coursework and assessments aligned with the academic standards assessed by each Keystone Exam may satisfy the requirements of subsections (c)—(e) subject to guidance developed by the Secretary.

 (m) Transition. To effect successful transition between requirements outlined in subsections (b) and (c) regarding requirements through the 2015-2016 school year and requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, subsection (d) regarding requirements beginning in the 2018-2019 school year and subsection (e) regarding requirements beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, a student who will graduate in the 2016-2017 school year or thereafter, who successfully completes courses with academic content assessed under subsection (c), (d) or (e), regarding requirements beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, 2018-2019 school year and 2019-2020 school year for which both the Keystone Exams and local validated assessments were not available at the time the course was completed, shall be deemed proficient for purposes of this section.

VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL EDUCATION

§ 4.31. Vocational-technical education.

 (a) Vocational-technical education courses shall be developed in the planned instruction format and be accessible to all high school students attending those grades in which vocational-technical education courses are offered. All students and their parents or guardians shall be informed of the students' rights to participate in vocational-technical education programs and courses and that students with disabilities enrolled in the programs are entitled to services under Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and programs). Students who complete approved vocational-technical education programs shall have their occupational competency assessed by completion of the appropriate assessment under the Pennsylvania Skills Certificate Program or by completion of another occupational competency assessment approved by the Department. A student with a disability shall be provided appropriate accommodations when provided for in the student's individualized education program. Students shall also demonstrate proficiency in meeting academic standards as required under § 4.24 (relating to high school graduation requirements), including § 4.12(f) (relating to academic standards) and § 4.24(g) for students with disabilities with an individualized education program.

 (b) Vocational-technical education courses may be taught at AVTSs or other high schools.

 (c) Vocational-technical education programs must consist of a series of planned academic and vocational-technical education courses that are articulated with one another so that knowledge and skills are taught in a systematic manner. When appropriate, vocational-technical education programs must adopt, in program areas for which they are available, industry recognized skills standards and may also include cooperative vocational-technical education and participation in vocational student organizations to develop leadership skills.

 (d) Vocational-technical education courses must include content based upon occupational analysis, clearly stated performance objectives deemed critical to successful employment and assessment of student competencies based upon performance standards.

 (e) The record of a student enrolled in a vocational-technical education program must include the student's educational and occupational objectives and the results of the assessment of student competencies under subsection (d).

 (f) Safety education, consisting of safety practices, accident prevention, occupational health habits and environmental concerns shall be integrated into the instruction and practices in vocational-technical education programs.

 (g) School districts and AVTSs administering vocational-technical education programs shall develop written policies regarding admissions. Course announcements, guidance materials and other communications must convey the philosophy of equal access to students considering enrolling in AVTSs and include a description of admissions policies. The policies must assure that when admissions to AVTSs must be limited, the admissions shall be on a nondiscriminatory basis.

§ 4.33. Advisory committees.

 (a) A school district or AVTS administering or planning to administer vocational-technical education programs shall appoint a local advisory committee. Membership on the committee shall consist of business and industry representatives, public sector employers, agriculture, labor organizations, community organizations, postsecondary education institutions and the general public. The appointed advisory committee shall meet at least once each year and give advice to the board and the administration concerning the program of the school, including its general philosophy, academic and other standards, course offerings, support services, safety requirements and the skill needs of employers. An advisory committee may serve multiple institutions where employment areas overlap.

 (b) An administrative committee, composed of chief school administrators representing participating school districts, shall be included in the organization of each AVTS. The committee shall advise the AVTS board and the administration concerning the educational program and policies of the school.

 (c) An occupational advisory committee shall be established for each vocational-technical education program or cluster of related programs offered by a school district or AVTS. The committee shall be appointed by the board of directors, and a majority of the members of the committee shall be employees and employers in the occupation for which training is provided. The committee shall meet at least twice each year to advise the board, administration and staff on curriculum, equipment, instructional materials, safety requirement, program evaluation and other related matters and to verify that the programs meet industry standards and, if appropriate, licensing board criteria and that they prepare students with occupation related competencies.

ASSESSMENT

§ 4.51. State assessment system.

 (a) The State assessment system shall be designed to serve the following purposes:

 (1) Provide students, parents, educators and citizens with an understanding of student and school performance consistent with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425).

 (2) Determine the degree to which school programs enable students to attain proficiency of academic standards under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards).

 (3) Provide information to State policymakers, including the General Assembly and the Board, on how effective schools are in promoting and demonstrating student proficiency of academic standards.

 (4) Provide information to the general public on school performance.

 (5) Provide results to school entities based upon the aggregate performance of all students, for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and for those without an IEP.

 (6) Assess student proficiency in the Academic Standards for English Language Arts (Appendix A-2), Mathematics (Appendix A-2), Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology (Appendix B) and Civics and Government (Appendix C) for the purpose of determining, in part, a student's eligibility for high school graduation.

 (b) The State assessment system must include PSSA assessments and Keystone Exams.

 (c) Neither State assessments nor academic standards under § 4.12 may require students to hold or express particular attitudes, values or beliefs.

 (d) The Department will make samples of State assessment questions, assessment formats and scoring guides available to the public after each administration of State assessments.

 (e) To ensure that information regarding student performance is available to parents and teachers, State assessments developed under this section must include student names.

 (f) Individual assessment results shall be used in planning instruction only by parents, teachers, administrators and guidance counselors with a need to know based upon local board policy on testing and in reporting academic progress.

 (g) The Department and other Commonwealth entities are prohibited from collecting individual student test scores and may collect only aggregate test scores by school and district.

 (h) The Board will authorize the expansion of the State assessment system through a revision of this chapter.

 (1) The Board will not include National assessments as part of the State assessment system unless, upon consultation with teachers, counselors and parents representing students who have been identified under Chapter 14 (relating to special education services and programs), the Board determines the assessment is an appropriate means of assessing the academic progress of students identified under Chapter 14, or unless the General Assembly authorizes the use of a National assessment.

 (2) Subject to paragraph (3), the Board will not, and the Department may not, be a governing state in any consortium for the development of a National assessment for the purpose of utilization as part of the State assessment system.

 (3) The Department may continue to participate in a consortium to develop an alternate assessment to measure the academic progress of students identified under Chapter 14.

 (i) The Department will implement provisions for security of the State assessment system, including the following:

 (1) Action by a professional employee or commissioned officer that is willfully designed to divulge test questions, falsify student scores or in some other fashion compromise the integrity of the State assessment system as determined by the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall be subject to disciplinary action under the Educator Discipline Act (24 P. S. §§ 2070.1a—2070.18c).

 (2) Cheating by students or employees other than those covered in paragraph (1) shall be subject to disciplinary action by the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (3) Cheating or breaches of assessment security shall be reported to the Secretary as soon as detected.

 (j) The Secretary is authorized to establish guidelines for the administration of the State assessment system.

 (k) The Secretary will report each September to the Board and the General Assembly information and pertinent data regarding the State assessment system. The Secretary also will provide each school entity information and pertinent data for the school entity and its students.

 (l) Children with disabilities and children with limited English proficiency shall be included in the State assessment system as required by Federal law, with appropriate accommodations when necessary. As appropriate, the Commonwealth will develop guidelines for the participation of children with disabilities in alternate assessments for those children who cannot participate in the PSSA or Keystone Exams as determined by each child's individualized education program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part.

§ 4.51a. Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.

 (a) All PSSA assessments administered in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology will be standards-based and criterion referenced and include essay or open-ended response items in addition to other item formats. The proportion of type of items will vary by grade level. The criteria for judging performance on PSSA assessments are as follows:

 (1) Performance on PSSA English Language Arts assessments shall be demonstrated by students' responses to comprehension questions about age-appropriate reading passages, by their written responses to in-depth comprehension questions about the passages and by the quality of their written compositions on a variety of topics and modes of writing.

 (2) Performance on PSSA mathematics assessments shall be demonstrated by students' responses to questions about grade-appropriate content and by the quality of their responses to questions that require a written solution to a problem.

 (3) Performance on PSSA science assessments shall be demonstrated by students' responses to grade appropriate content and by the quality of their responses to questions that demonstrate knowledge of each category of the standards for science and technology and environment and ecology.

 (4) Performance levels shall be advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. In consultation with educators, students, parents and citizens, the Department will develop and recommend to the Board for its approval specific criteria for advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels of performance.

 (b) The Department will develop or cause to be developed PSSA assessments based on Pennsylvania Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards) and contained in Appendix A-2 and academic standards in Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology under § 4.12 and contained in Appendix B. In developing PSSA assessments, the Department will consult with educators, students, parents and citizens regarding the specific methods of assessment.

 (c) The PSSA assessments shall be administered annually and include assessments of the State academic standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts at grades 3 through 8, and in Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology at grades 4 and 8.

§ 4.51b. Keystone Exams.

 (a) The Department will develop or cause to be developed Keystone Exams as provided in this subsection. (This subsection is intended by the Board to be a continuation of § 4.51(f) (relating to State assessment system) as published at 40 Pa.B. 240 (January 9, 2010) and referenced in section 102 of the School Code (24 P. S. § 1-102).)

 (1) Three assessments aligned with the Mathematics standards, contained in Appendix A-2, that assess the academic content traditionally included in Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry courses.

 (2) Two assessments aligned with select English Language Arts standards, contained in Appendix A-2 that assess academic content traditionally included in high school literature and composition courses.

 (3) Three assessments aligned with select History and Civics and Government standards, contained in Appendix C, that assess content traditionally included in high school level American History, World History and Civics and Government courses.

 (4) Two assessments aligned with select standards for Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology, contained in Appendix B, that assess academic content traditionally included in high school level Biology and Chemistry courses.

 (b) Keystone Exams shall be offered at least three times each year: once each in the fall, spring and summer.

 (c) Keystone Exams shall be administered, reviewed and scored so that scores for candidates for graduation are provided to schools no later than 10 calendar days prior to graduation. A school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, may request the Department to approve alternative test administration and scoring time frames. The Department will publish guidelines and procedures for approving alternative test administration and scoring time frames on its web site. The guidelines will provide for approval of all requests unless the approval is contrary to standards of test validity and scoring.

 (d) A student shall be permitted to retake any Keystone Exam, or Keystone Exam module, in which the student did not score proficient or above at the next available testing date, so long as the student has participated in a satisfactory manner in supplemental instruction as provided under § 4.24(k) (relating to high school graduation requirements) and subsection (f). There is not a limit on the number of times a student who did not score proficient on a Keystone Exam is permitted to retake the Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module. A student who has achieved a score of proficient or advanced on a Keystone Exam is not permitted to retake the exam.

 (e) Each Keystone Exam will be designed in modules that reflect distinct, related academic content that is common to the traditional progression of coursework to allow students who do not score proficient or above to retake those portions of the test in which they did not score proficient or above.

 (f) A student taking Keystone Exams, or Keystone Exam modules, who did not score proficient on a Keystone Exam, or Keystone Exam module, shall be provided supplemental instruction consistent with the student's educational program by the student's school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, until the student can demonstrate proficiency in the subject area or the student begins a project-based assessment provided in § 4.51c (relating to project-based assessment).

 (g) Performance levels for Keystone Exams shall be set at the advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels. In consultation with the Performance Level Advisory Committee, the Department will develop and recommend to the Board for its approval performance level descriptors and performance level cut scores for the Keystone Exams and any alternative assessments developed to assess students with disabilities as permitted by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425). The Department will use widely-accepted psychometric procedures to establish the cut scores. Cut scores shall be presented at a public meeting of the Board for its review at least 2 weeks prior to scheduled Board action on the cut scores.

 (h) The Department will provide guidance to school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, as to the appropriate accommodations school entities shall provide to students with disabilities, students who are gifted and English language learners, when appropriate.

 (i) Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, Keystone Exams in the following subjects will be developed by the Department and made available for use by school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, for the purpose of assessing high school graduation requirements in § 4.24(c)(1)(iii):

Algebra I
Literature
Biology

 (j) Subject to funding appropriated by the General Assembly for development of the exams and related project-based assessments and validation of related local assessments, Keystone Exams in the following subjects will be developed by the Department and made available for use by school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, for the purpose of assess-ing high school graduation requirements in § 4.24(c)(1)(iii)in accordance with the following schedule:

School Year 2015-2016 English Composition
School Year 2016-2017 Civics and Government

 (1) During the 2014-2015 school year, school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, shall administer the Keystone Exam in English Composition for the purpose of gathering data to set performance level cut scores for the exam.

 (2) During the 2015-2016 school year, school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, shall administer the Keystone Exam in Civics and Government for the purpose of gathering data to set performance level cut scores for the exam.

 (k) Subject to funding appropriated by the General Assembly for development of the exams, Keystone Exams in the following subjects will be developed by the Department and made available for voluntary use by school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, in accordance with the following schedule:

School Year 2016-2017 Geometry
School Year 2017-2018 U.S. History
School Year 2018-2019 Algebra II
School Year 2019-2020 Chemistry
School Year 2020-2021 World History

 (l) The Department will seek to have the Keystone Exams approved as the high school level single accountability system under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Upon approval by the United States Department of Education, the Algebra I and Literature exams will be used to determine adequate yearly progress at the high school level. The Biology Keystone Exam will be used as the high school level science assessment, which is not a factor in determining adequate yearly progress. If the Keystone Exams receive approval as the high school level accountability measure, school districts, AVTSs and charter schools, including cyber charter schools, shall administer the Literature, Algebra I and Biology exams as end-of-course tests in the grade level in which students complete the relevant coursework.

 (m) The 11th grade PSSA exams in Reading, Writing, Math and Science shall be discontinued upon implementation of the Keystone Exams as the approved assessment system under section 1111(b)(2)(C) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 U.S.C.A. § 6311(b)(2)(C)).

 (n) At least once every 5 years, the Department will contract with a qualified, independent research organization to perform a validity study of the Keystone Exams using generally accepted education research standards. These studies will determine, at a minimum, the degree to which the Keystone Exams and performance level cut scores are valid for the purposes for which they are used; aligned with State academic standards; aligned with performance levels of other states; internationally benchmarked; and predict college and career success. In addition, all Keystone Exams, performance level descriptors and cut scores will be subject to the best available forms of content, criterion and consequential validation.

 (o) The Department will establish a State Assessment Validation Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee will advise the Department on its plans to conduct the validity study and review and provide feedback on its findings.

 (p) The Department and the Committee will investigate the use of a certificate based on industry approved standards and performance on an NOCTI exam as an alternative pathway to graduation and will make a report and recommendation to the Board by January 10, 2011.

§ 4.51c. Project-based assessment.

 (a) The Department will develop a project-based assessment system that is aligned with the modules for the Keystone Exams in Literature, Algebra I, Biology, Composition, and Civics and Government for students who are unable to demonstrate proficiency on a Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module, or if § 4.4(d)(4) (relating to general policies) applies.

 (b) The project-based assessment system shall be administered by schools and scored by Statewide panels composed of teachers, principals and curriculum specialists assembled by the Department. The Statewide review panels shall score student projects according to scoring protocols and rubrics developed by the Department.

 (c) A student in grade 12 who has not demonstrated proficiency on a Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam mod- ule may qualify to participate in one or more project-based assessments if the student has met the following conditions:

 (1) Has taken the course.

 (2) Has met the attendance requirements of the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (3) Has participated in a satisfactory manner in supplemental instructional services consistent with the student's educational program provided by the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, as provided under §§ 4.24(k) and 4.51b(f) (relating to high school graduation requirements; and Keystone Exams).

 (d) A student below grade 12 who has not demonstrated proficiency on a Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module after at least two attempts on the exam or module may qualify to participate in one or more project-based assessments if the student has met the following conditions:

 (1) Has taken the course.

 (2) Has met the attendance requirements of the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (3) Has participated in a satisfactory manner in supplemental instructional services consistent with the student's educational program provided by the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, as provided under §§ 4.24(k) and 4.51b(f).

 (e)  A student to whom § 4.4(d)(4) applies may qualify to participate in one or more project-based assessments if the student has met the following conditions:

 (1) Has taken the course.

 (2) Has met the attendance requirements of the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (f) Successful completion of a project-based assessment aligned to the Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module on which a student did not demonstrate proficiency shall satisfy the requirements that students achieve proficiency on the Keystone Exams in § 4.24.

 (g) A student enrolled in a Department-approved car- eer and technical education program who has not dem- onstrated proficiency on a Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module in Biology may qualify to participate in a project-based assessment in Biology if the student has met the following conditions:

 (1) Has taken the course.

 (2) Has met the attendance requirements of the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

§ 4.51d. Waivers.

 A chief school administrator, in his sole discretion, may waive the requirements in § 4.24 (relating to high school graduation requirements) on a case-by-case basis for good cause. Waivers may be granted for a student in grade 12 who was not successful in completing a project-based assessment as provided in § 4.51c (relating to project-based assessment), or to accommodate a student who experiences extenuating circumstances (including serious illness, death in immediate family, family emergency, frequent transfers in schools or transfer from an out-of-State school in grade 12).

 (1) Prior to granting a waiver, a chief school administrator shall certify that the student meets the following criteria:

 (i) Has met the local requirements of the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, for graduation, except for demonstration of proficiency of the requirements in § 4.24(c)(1)(iii)(A) for which the waiver is being requested.

 (ii) Has not demonstrated proficiency on a Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module.

 (iii) If the student is required to participate in supplemental instruction under § 4.24(k) and § 4.51b(f) (relating to Keystone Exams), has participated in a satisfactory manner in supplemental instructional services consistent with the student's educational program provided by the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (iv) Has not successfully completed a project-based assessment aligned to the Keystone Exam or Keystone Exam module on which the student did not demonstrate proficiency.

 (2) If a chief school administrator is considering granting waivers for more than 10% of students in the graduating class of a school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, because the students were not successful in completing a project-based assessment as provided in § 4.51c, the chief school administrator shall submit an action plan for approval by the Secretary no later than 10 calendar days prior to graduation. The action plan must identify improvements the school district, AVTS or charter school, including a cyber charter school, will implement to each course associated with the Keystone Exam content for which the waivers were granted.

 (3) The chief school administrator of each school district, AVTS and charter school, including a cyber charter school, shall annually report to the Department the number of waivers granted to students in the most recent graduating class, and the Department will annually report to the Board the number of waivers granted by each school district, AVTS and charter school, including a cyber charter school.

 (4) The waiver process described in this section does not confer an individual right on any student.

 (5) The decision of a chief school administrator concerning a waiver request is not an adjudication.

 (6) Disapproval of the action plan required under paragraph (2) does not confer an individual right on any student relative to a waiver determination made by a chief school administrator.

§ 4.52. Local assessment system.

 (a) Each school entity shall design an assessment system to do the following:

 (1) Determine the degree to which students are achieving academic standards under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards). The school entity shall provide assistance to students not attaining academic standards at the proficient level or better.

 (2) Use assessment results to improve curriculum and instructional practices and to guide instructional strategies.

 (3) Provide information requested by the Department regarding the achievement of academic standards, but which does not include student names, identification numbers or individually identifiable information.

 (4) Provide summary information, including results of assessments under this section, to the general public regarding the achievement of students, but which does not include student names, identification numbers or individually identifiable information.

 (b) The local assessment system shall be approved by the board of school directors, at minimum, once every 6 years and implemented no later than 1 year after the approval date.

 (c) The local assessment system shall be designed to include a variety of assessment strategies which may include the following:

 (1) Written work by students.

 (2) Scientific experiments conducted by students.

 (3) Works of art or musical, theatrical or dance performances by students.

 (4) Other demonstrations, performances, products or projects by students related to specific academic standards.

 (5) Examinations developed by teachers to assess specific academic standards.

 (6) Nationally-available achievement tests.

 (7) Diagnostic assessments.

 (8) Evaluations of portfolios of student work related to achievement of academic standards.

 (9) Other measures as appropriate, which may include standardized tests.

 (d) Individual test information shall be maintained in a student's educational record in a manner consistent with section 444 of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g) and 34 CFR Part 99 (relating to family educational rights and privacy).

 (e) Children with disabilities shall be included in the local assessment system, with appropriate accommodations, when necessary. As appropriate, the school district, including a charter school, including a cyber charter school, or AVTS shall develop guidelines for the participation of children with disabilities in alternate assessments for those children who cannot participate in the local assessment as determined by each child's Individualized Education Program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part.

 (f) The Department will establish a Local Assessment Validation Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee will develop the criteria for the local validation process and criteria for selection of approved validation entities as provided in § 4.24(c)(1)(iii)(B) (relating to high school graduation requirements). The Department, in consultation with the Committee, will establish a list of entities approved to perform independent validations of local assessments. The Committee will submit its recommendations for approval or disapproval to the Board. The Department will post the approved criteria, selection criteria and list of approved entities on its web site.

SCHOOL PROFILES

§ 4.61. School profiles.

 (a) School profiles developed by the Secretary will include information as required under section 220 of the School Code (24 P. S. § 2-220).

 (b) The Secretary will prescribe procedures for reporting State assessment data to schools and communities.

 (c) The Secretary will make available to the public, and report to the public with the same frequency and in the same detail as for children who are nondisabled, all data as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

APPENDIX A-1
[Reserved]

APPENDIX A-2
Pennsylvania Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics

Pennsylvania Core Standards for English Language Arts
Grades Pre K-5

INTRODUCTION

 These standards describe what students should know and be able to do with the English language, prekindergarten through Grade 12. The standards provide the targets for instruction and student learning essential for success in all academic areas, not just language arts classrooms. Although the standards are not a curriculum or a prescribed series of activities, school entities will use them to develop a local school curriculum that will meet local students' needs.

 Five standard categories are designed to provide a Pre K-12 continuum to reflect the demands of a college- and career-ready graduate:

Standard 1: Foundational Skills begin at prekindergarten and focus on early childhood, with some standards reflected through Grade 5. These foundational skills are a necessary and important component of an effective, comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend text, both literary and informational, across disciplines.
Standard 2: Reading Informational Text enables students to read, understand, and respond to informational text.
Standard 3: Reading Literature enables students to read, understand, and respond to works of literature.
Standard 4: Writing develops the skills of informational, argumentative, and narrative writing, as well as the ability to engage in evidence-based analysis of text and research.
Standard 5: Speaking and Listening focuses students on communication skills that enable critical listening and effective presentation of ideas.

 With a focus on college and career readiness, the instructional shifts as reflected in Common Core are evident throughout the PA Core Standards:

 • Balancing the reading of informational and literary texts so that students can access nonfiction and authentic texts, as well as literature

 • Focusing on close and careful reading of text so that students are learning from the text

 • Building a staircase of complexity (i.e., each grade level requires a ''step'' of growth on the ''staircase'') so that students graduate college or career ready

 • Supporting writing from sources (i.e., using evidence from text to inform or make an argument) so that students use evidence and respond to the ideas, events, facts, and arguments presented in the texts they read

 • Stressing an academically focused vocabulary so that students can access more complex texts

 The English Language Arts Standards also provide parents and community members with information about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through the educational program and at graduation. With a clearly defined target provided by the standards, parents, students, educators, and community members become partners in learning. Each standard implies an end-of-year goal—with the understanding that exceeding the standard is an even more desirable end goal.

Note: The Aligned Eligible Content is displayed with the standard statement. On the Standard Aligned System portal, it is a live link.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foundational Skills (Pre K-5)
1.1

 Students gain a working knowledge of concepts of print, alphabetic principle, and other basic conventions. These foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, students apply them as effective readers.

 • Book Handling

 • Print Concepts

 • Phonological Awareness

 • Phonics and Word Recognition

 • Fluency

Reading Informational Text
1.2

 Students read, understand, and respond to informational text—with an emphasis on comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and making connections among ideas and between texts with a focus on textual evidence.

 • Key Ideas and Details

 • Craft and Structure

 • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

 • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

 • Range of Reading

Reading Literature
1.3

 Students read and respond to works of literature—with emphasis on comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and making connections among ideas and between texts with focus on textual evidence.

 • Key Ideas and Details

 • Craft and Structure

 • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

 • Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

 • Range of Reading

Writing
1.4

 Students write for different purposes and audiences. Students write clear and focused text to convey a well-defined perspective and appropriate content.

 • Informative/Explanatory

 • Opinion/Argumentative

 • Narrative

 • Response to Literature

 • Production and Distribution of Writing

 • Technology and Publication

 • Conducting Research

 • Credibility, Reliability, and Validity of Sources

 • Range of Writing

Speaking and Listening
1.5

 Students present appropriately in formal speaking situations, listen critically, and respond intelligently as individuals or in group discussions.

 • Comprehension and Collaboration

 • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

 • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

 • Conventions of Standard English

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