Oct. 17, 2018

By State Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne)

This week in the House of Representatives two measures were passed to improve aspects of our education system. I voted in favor of both bills.

Senate Bill 1095 would give Pennsylvania students additional options for fulfilling high school graduation requirements beyond the Keystone Exams.

Under the bill, students who do not score proficient on the Keystone Exams would be able to demonstrate their graduation readiness through alternative means, such as a student’s successful completion of work-based learning programs, a service learning project, or an offer of full-time employment as evidence of post-secondary readiness.

Most of us recognize that you cannot judge a student’s academic proficiency by one set of tests, which is what the Keystone Exams set out to do. Pennsylvania needs to update the way in which we evaluate success based on the knowledge that not all students are adept at standardized testing.

As part of the bill, the Keystone Exam graduation requirement would also be put on hold until the 2021-22 academic year. The alternate graduation options in Senate Bill 1095 would take effect when that delay expires.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

House Bill 1386 was also approved by the House this week. It would change the way current and future special education instructors are certified.

Current law certifies special education instructors to teach either preK-8 or grades 7-12. It also requires additional certification in an area of specialization.

The proposal would allow anyone who obtains a special education teaching certificate after Dec. 31, 2021, to teach preK through grade 12 or up to 21 years of age. It also would remove the need for additional certification.

Accommodations would be made to allow current special education instructors to teach PreK-12 or up to 21 years of age using their existing certificate through continuing education or assessment testing.

We need more teachers to dedicate themselves to working with students with special needs and this legislation aims to make certification for that specialty more accessible.

This bill is currently waiting to be signed into law by the governor.

Representative Tarah Toohil
116th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office
RepToohil.com / Facebook.com/RepToohil