Is Another State Test the Answer?

Recently, a deal was struck between the Department of Education and Pennsylvania’s School Board Association to establish what is known as the Keystone Exams. The exams would cost the state around $210 million in development and implementation over the next seven years. Under this compromise, students would have several different ways to qualify for their diploma. The options include passing six out of ten assessments or one of the following:

  • fulfill local graduation requirements (the adequacy of these have been questionable)
  • score proficient or above on the PSSA in 11th grade
  • score proficient or above on Advanced Placement exams.

The agreement comes after a study done by Penn State stating that only 18 out of 418 school districts met state standards for graduation. However, according to James P. Testerman, President of PSEA, “the study’s authors state in their report that they didn’t have enough evidence to make a determination regarding the assessments of many of the districts. The department twists that to claim the districts don’t have any evidence of whether their students are proficient.”

Ultimately, the legitimacy of the study and the assumption that more state testing will ensure students graduate with something more than a piece of paper needs to be carefully considered. While it’s hard to say if state testing will improve performance, we do know that more spending alone will not improve our schools.