Keystone exams fail Pa. students

by Andy Dinniman,, 11/18/13

Though controversial, I believe the new Pennsylvania Core Standards (Common Core) are a positive step for education. However, in the false name of raising academic standards and accountability, the Corbett administration is attempting to assess these new standards through the Keystone Graduation Exams, which will result in higher property taxes, less classroom instruction, more “teaching to the test,” and the potential for a generation of students to be branded as failures.

The state Department of Education and the state Board of Education have proposed the exams to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission, which is set to vote on them on Thursday.

I encourage you to join me in opposing the exams. Here’s why:

It is fundamentally wrong for three standardized tests to determine a student’s high school graduation. If the Keystone exams are approved, high school students starting with the Class of 2017 will face the possibility of passing all their classes with straight A’s yet failing one of the Keystones and not getting a diploma.

It is also irresponsible to implement a program of graduation exams that will result in the largest unfunded mandate in the past 50 years. The Keystone exams require school districts to provide remediation and supplementary instruction for students who do not pass. However, the state Department of Education provides no funding for remediation costs. In fact, the department claims that the exams will have no cost to school districts, even as statewide test results indicate that remediation and supplemental instruction will be required by more than one-third of students in algebra I, more than half in biology, and a fourth in literature. The exams and their required remediation could result in an unfunded mandate of more than $300 million a year. In fact, the West Chester Area School District estimates that remediation for the biology exam alone will cost local taxpayers about $250,000.

These costs will be passed on to taxpayers in the form of massive school property tax increases….



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