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Group Says PAs New School Performance Profiles Stress Tests Over Learning

October 7, 2013- Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG- Pennsylvania's new School Performance Profile aims to be a public schools report card, but the state's largest public employees' union says it fails the test. According to Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, at the root of the problem is the profiles' dependence on standardized testing results.

"All they want to talk about is, 'How do we test?' and 'How do we grade?' and 'How do we evaluate somebody?' We spend so much time testing, that we're taking time away from teaching and taking time away from learning," Crossey charged.

The schools union chief declared that, while the profiles could have effects on school funding and teacher job status, they ignore the widespread cuts all Pennsylvania schools have suffered under the administration of Governor Tom Corbett.

"They've cut a billion dollars from our school funding," he said. "So, in addition to more testing, the teachers in those classrooms are looking at larger class sizes, less resources, less personnel, fewer textbooks, less technology, less tutoring, but more tests."

Crossey said the profiles are also short-sighted in terms of producing pupils who emerge with well-rounded sets of skills that can set them up for success.

"So that our students, when they grow up, they're not the best-tested kids in the world, they're prepared to join the world of work and be good citizens here in the state of Pennsylvania. That's our ultimate goal," Crossey said.

The state Department of Education plans to use the scores from the School Performance Profile in the 2013-2014 school year to gauge how students are learning and how teachers are doing their jobs. Crossey said 90 percent of the scoring is based on how pupils perform on tests like the PSSA and the Keystone Exam.

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