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Lawmaker Complains of Unfunded State Mandate

Chester County Lawmaker Complains of Unfunded State Mandate

October 14, 2013
HARRISBURG- A Chester County state senator says the new high stakes Keystone Exams that high school students will have to pass in the future in order to get their diploma is nothing more than an unfunded state mandate on school districts.

Senator Andy Dinniman says itís time for state lawmakers, many of whom regularly campaign and speak out against unfunded state mandates, to oppose the Keystone Exams which the state Department of Education is going to require students to pass in order to earn their high school diploma.

The new higher standard testing has been approved by the State Board of Education and is now being reviewed by the Governorís Office.

Gov. Corbett supports the Keystone Exams as a high stakes test for high school graduation, so itís expected that his office will sign-off on the requirement. Once that occurs, and thereís no timetable at this point, the Keystone Exams requirement goes to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for final approval.

Senator Dinniman says the requirement will also be sent to the Senate and House Education committees for review and comment. He strongly suggests that lawmakers voice their objections and disapproval to this unfunded state mandate.

Senator Dinniman says that, as a result of state funding cuts to public education by the current administration and legislature, many school districts have trimmed tutoring programs, early education programs, and other electives. He says many school districts, especially poorer ones, cannot afford the added cost of implementing the Keystone Exams as a requirement for graduation unless they receive additional funding from the state Ė and that doesnít seem likely to happen under the current administration.

Senator Dinniman says although the state Department of Education has declined to say how much it will cost Pennsylvaniaís 500 school districts to implement the Keystone Exams, he believes a conservative estimate is $300 million.

The new standards would affect this yearís ninth grade class which is scheduled to graduate in 2017, if they pass the Keystone Exams.

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