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
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.