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Parents and School Boards against Keystone Exam
August 28, 2013
A majority of parents, school board members, and superintendents expressed deep concern to a state Senate committee this week over the use of the Keystone Exams as a requirement in Pennsylvania for high school graduation.

The State Board of Education is set to vote September 11 to authorize three tests - Biology, Algebra I, and Literature - which would be given to students after completing the coursework. If they fail, they can retake the test. If they fail again, they can do a supplementary project, but that would be noted on their diploma.

The graduation requirement would start for this year's ninth graders. Plans call for students to take Keystone tests in up to 10 subject areas in coming years.                                         

Test supporters argue that tens of thousands of students now graduate without needed skills and that they should be able to pass a competency test to receive a diploma.                                  

The tests are tied to the "Common Core" standards, which is a voluntary initiative adopted by 45 states that establishes a single set of educational requirements for kindergarten through 12th grade in English, language arts, and mathematics. Those standards were approved by the state Board of Education this spring. Gov. Corbett has said he is committed to ensuring they are in place by the start of the school year.

Senator Dinniman said local districts would be on the hook for the cost of implementing the standards, estimated at $300 million statewide. He called the plan "a charade" for "raising false hopes and not providing the resources to make those hopes a reality.”

 “We are on the verge of putting onto our schools the largest unfunded mandate in the last 50 years," said Senator Dinniman, who has introduced legislation to block the standards from taking effect until financial concerns are resolved. "Thus, we will spend a large amount of money we do not have to provide something we already know," he said.

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