Public school freshmen statewide face a higher bar for graduation due to the state Regulatory Review Commission's well-considered approval last week of new basic standards and Keystone Exams.

Pending a final legal review by the attorney general's office, the new "Common Core" standards set reasonable standards for what students must know to graduate, while leaving specific curriculum decisions at the local level. To graduate, members of the Class of 2017 - today's freshmen - will have to pass tests in literature, biology and algebra or complete a project under an instructor's supervision.

Keystone Exams last year replaced other assessment tests for juniors, without the graduation requirement.

The change is controversial. A debate continues as to the fairness of the tests and whether they truly measure what students know, and the regulatory commission vote was close, 3-2.

But there must be a mechanism to ensure that students are educated rather than merely processed during their high school years. It's a matter of responsibility to them and accountability for system.