Four years from now, it won't be enough for Pennsylvania high school students to pass all their required courses. To get a special state seal on their high school diplomas, they'll have to pass a special test to prove they've met state standards for reading, writing and math. Sound like a simple idea? Read on.
The test will affect those Pennsylvania students who are now in the seventh grade, but the exam hasn't been written yet. Who writes it and what material will be covered is already stirring up controversy in local school districts.
On one side are those who believe that deciding the requirements for graduation is a local matter. On the other are those who argue that a Pennsylvania diploma will mean more, to colleges and and potential employers, if students have to demonstrate competency on a standardized test.
But to get to that point, state education officials must first answer several other questions, including: What happens to students who don't pass the test?