TOWANDA - Based on new state requirements, the current seventh-grade class in the Towanda School District will be the first to have to pass Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school, a Towanda school official said.

The state will eventually require that students pass five Keystone Exams in order to obtain a high school diploma, but the requirement will be phased in over the next eight years, Towanda Junior/Senior High School Principal Dennis Peachey told the Towanda Area School Board on Monday.

The current seventh-grade class - the Class of 2017 - will be required to pass Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology in order to graduate from high school, he said.

Starting with the Class of 2019, students will also have to pass a Keystone Exam in Composition, and, starting with the Class of 2020, students will have to pass a fifth Keystone Exam - in Civics & Government, he said.

The Keystone Exams will be administered after students take the course on which the test is based, he said.

Students will take the Algebra I test in either the eighth, ninth, or 10th grade; the literature test in the 10th grade; the biology test in grade 9 or 10; the composition test in 9th grade; and the Civics & Government test in the 10th grade, he said.

Students who fail a Keystone Exam will have multiple opportunities to re-take the test and pass it, he said.

However, in many cases, they would only have to re-take a portion of the test, he said.

Peachey explained that each Keystone Exam will contain a number of "modules" and students would only have to re-take the module that they failed, he said.

The school district will be required to provide supplemental instruction to students who fail a Keystone Exam, to help them pass it the next time, he said.

If, after multiple attempts, students still cannot pass the Keystone Exam in a subject, they would be required to complete a "project based assessment" during their senior year in that subject in order to graduate, he said.

A project based assessment in biology, for example, might be "a giant word problem" in which students would have to demonstrate proficiency in various areas, he said.

The project-based assessments would be graded by Intermediate Unit 17 to determine if the student had passed or failed, he said.

Keystone Exams will be available in five additional subjects, but school districts will not be required to administer tests in those five subjects, he said.