Current eleventh grade students better get studying. Pennsylvania today approved a plan to test students before they graduate.
They don’t pass, they don’t graduate.
The good news for students is they will no longer need to pass the PSSA tests; instead, they will be taking a series of tests, known as the Keystone Tests, in order to graduate.
The first tests will be on the subjects of biology, algebra and literature and are taking place next year. Thus, all current juniors will be forced to pass this test in order to graduate in 2011.
“We already have to pass classes and take finals and SATs, we shouldn’t have to take another” complained Penn Manor High School Junior, Emily Land.
According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the new tests offer little-to-no room for error. Any student that receives a grade score of “D” or lower receives a score of zero on the test.
And the tests come with a large price. It will take a reported $176 million to develop and administer the tests for the first year they take place. The following years, it will cost an estimated $31 million.
Junior Lauren Ressler, who will be among the first to take the Keystone Test, had this to say: “We do enough work as it is.”
And junior Jeff Ford was in agreement, “We shouldn’t have to take it.”
One advocacy group, Pennsylvania State Conference of NAACP fears that this new technique of testing will deny students diplomas just simply because they fail the test.
Along with the draft of this testing process, the State Education Board included that if a student would happen to fail the test, and re-fail the test a second time, what is being called a “special project” would be included in order to help students reach the credit needed.
Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests would also count toward the scores.
Though the tests are mandatory, the qualification for graduation is pending an individual school district board vote. If the school district decides not to include the tests mandatory to graduate, they will be forced to design their own way to measure the students’ skills.
“I knew it was coming, I think we are trying to show our students are growing in school,” said Mrs. Cox, who is also concerned about the cost of the tests. “I think we compete with a lot of countries and I wouldn’t be surprised if a universal curriculum isn’t created soon.”
By: Tyler Barnett