Another Set of Exams? What the..?

Students at Penn Manor High School are feeling a little rumble of rage. Rumor has it that in order to graduate or move up a grade, they must pass yet another exam-the Keystone Exam.

The Keystone exams could be very beneficial, but everyone who has to take them may disagree. Kids already have a lot to worry about while they’re in school, like tests, quizzes, and projects-and now another really important exam?

The Keystone exams are similar to the PSSAS but will take the place of those tests which are administered in third, eighth and eleventh grades.  The main difference is that passing the Keystone is now necessary for students to graduate and to pass to the next higher grade. The state Board of Education approved it in 2009.  Students will take the first Keystone exams in biology, algebra I, and literature in the 2010-11 school year.

“The reason I favor the Keystone exams over PSSAs is because [the students] would take them as they finished the course,” said principal Phil Gale.  “The Keystone exams will give[the students] immediate feedback on the content knowledge.”

Penn Manor Principal Phil Gale says "yes" to Keystone Exams. Photo credit Emily Brody
In other words, these exams should be easier than the PSSAs because they are taken immediately after a semester of instruction. However, they will play a huge role in the students’ final grade – a whopping 33%.
Students who receive “below basic” on exams will be given a zero.
In order to make up for the below basic score, the students could either retake the exam, or complete a Bridge Project.

“First of all, it’s better,” said math teacher Kim Frey. “It’s a better evaluation than the PSSAs, the reason being is because we take it at the end of every course.”

Kids that are now in seventh grade will have to pass at least six Keystone exams to graduate. But, this is only possible if Penn Manor decides to use the exams over the PSSAs. The school will not make the students take the PSSAs and the Keystone exams together in the same year, officials said.

“Basically, I just think it’s pointless, the PSSAs seem much better than these exams,” said student Neisha Stoltzfus.

“For people who are moving along successfully in high school, I don’t think it should take 33% of their [class] grade,” said Jesse Millis a freshman here at Penn Manor.

“They’ll be easier to manage in terms of kids doing better on them,” said Frey.

Teachers will be able to preview the exams, which will make it easier for them to teach the kids the correct material in order to do well on the test.

“I would guess that the teachers will have the exams, they’ll be the same year after year after year… but know one really knows,” Said Ken Long, a former Penn Manor Board member.

The tests will look similar to Penn Manor’s final exams; all the students have to do is take initiative and study for them.

By Gabby Myers

4 thoughts on “Another Set of Exams? What the..?”

  1. So, all I understood was that we get to take the PSSAs every year, and they will actively affect our grades. Wonderful. *welcomes his parents’ moving plans with open arms*

  2. If the state continues to make test like these require and such a huge part of our education, then all our generation and the coming generation will be able to do is fill in scantron sheets for a living.

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