New Pennsylvania State Act brings changes to high school students


Evelyn Esek

Baldwin High School serves the Baldwin, Whitehall, and Baldwin Township communities.

Tumi Ojo and Asmita Pokharel

Implementing new graduation requirements from Act 158 means that students who have not passed their Keystone Exams will have more work to do. 

For anyone who is worried about not getting their high school diploma because of these new guidelines, there are a multitude of pathways you can take. 

“The different pathways are important because they give students the opportunity to meet graduation requirements if they cannot pass the Keystones exams,” Principal Shaun Tomaszewski said. 

The first pathway is called Keystone Proficiency, in which you pass all your keystones and are good to go. This is likely the most convenient option for students. 

Keystone Proficiency is achieved by having at least one proficient or advanced score, and having a combined total score of 4452 or higher for your three Keystone exams. 

The second pathway is the Keystone Composite path where students who missed Keystone testing in 2020 due to covid are given a non-numerical proficient score. This path though is suspected to go away next year, as there have been no restrictions to Keystone testing in recent years. 

The third pathway is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Concentrator, which is more specifically for Steel Center. Students who attend Steel Center need to pass the NOCTI exam and the following three key courses: Algebra 1, Biology, and English 10.

The fourth pathway is the Alternative Assessment pathway, in which students have to provide proof that they have passed the anchor classes, Biology, English 10, and Algebra 1, and have been accepted into a four-year university. 

School Counselor Noel Santini said that while Baldwin is essentially asking for acceptance to a four-year college, there are also other ways to accomplish this if you don’t get your acceptance, such as: a PSAT composite score of at least 970, SAT score of at least 1010, ACT score of 21, or an ASVAB score of 31.
There are different rules for each part of the Alternative Assessment pathway, so setting up a meeting with your school counselor is recommended.

“While this can seem scary, we are here to walk you through the process, making sure you understand what is needed, and that there are no surprises at the end. There are alternative ways, we are here to assist you, and if students need anything make an appointment and we are happy to help you,” Santini said. 

The fifth and last pathway is the Evidence-Based pathway. In this route, a student would need to again have passed the anchor classes, have an industry-recognized credential similar to CPR, and have taken a CHS class. Then they would need to have either been accepted to a two-year school, a military enlistment, or a full-time employment letter. 

Students who have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are only required to sit for the Keystone Tests and need to have passed their courses. 

Students who are currently in the English-Language Learners program are also required to stick to the pathways. 

“As of now, there are some things in the work for CHS classes along the line for ELL students. It’s the first year Act 158 has been implemented, so I’m certain that modifications are to come,” Santini said. 

Tomaszewski says that there is action being taken in classrooms for future success on the Keystones. 

“I think across the Science department, English department, and Math department there are constant conversations, with the faculty teaching those courses, to make sure that what we are teaching is aligned to standards-based expectations,” Tomaszewski said. 

Senior Abby Truzi, who did not pass her Algebra 1 Keystone, also spoke on the issue. 

“Worrying about not being able to graduate with the rest of the class of 2023 made me very stressed,” Truzi said. “I was very scared about completing the necessary pathways towards graduation.”

However, because Truzi was accepted into a four-year- college, she is no longer barred from graduating with the class of 2023. 

Santini said she understands that some students may have difficulties taking the test. There are many pathways toward graduation that students can choose with the guidance of their counselors.

“In the past, keystones were not taken as seriously in graduation aspects, but now they mean something and have teeth to them,” Santini said. “I would say bring your best to the test and treat it seriously.”