PA Keystone Exam Update, Cheers or Jeers?

Just a little education update on the state of Pennsylvania's new graduation requirement  from The Pennsylvania School Board Association.

 Every Pennsylvania parent of a child who will be graduating in the year 2017 or after, must learn about the Keystone Exam graduation requirements. There are currently 3 subject areas tested, with more to come.


"The state removed language requiring the transcript to designate whether the level was achieved by taking a Keystone Exam or by a project-based assessment..." 

Should we celebrate the removal of the "Scarlet Letter" on the transcripts of students who take Keystone projects (for kids who have difficulty passing the exams)? Nah, the Keystones should have been eliminated as a high stakes, graduation requirement. This is a really tiny "Cheer."

The state threw us a bone on this one. Our kids who take the project will now not look as bad to colleges as the state originally intended.


Just when we were wondering if we can opt our kids out of this, we learn that we may for religious reasons... but our children still have to do the project. I recently learned that the project for Algebra 1 is... DRUM ROLL, PLEASE.... an on-line assessment that takes 8 - 10 hours before or after school. It sure sounds like a longer, on-line version of the paper exam.

"Parental opt-out – The regulation gives parents/guardians the right to review any state assessment to determine whether the assessment conflicts with their religious beliefs. In asserting a religious objection to the assessment, a parent/guardian must explain the objection in their (sic) written request for excusal. 

Project required for opt-out students – Students who are not taking Keystone Exams under the parental opt-out provision must take the project-based assessment for each subject area required for graduation. This provision was added in the March draft."

Q: Is there a religious opt out for the Project Based Assessment

A: The religious opt out applies only to state assessments. Chapter 4 defines a state assessment as "a valid and reliable measurement of student performance on a set of academic standards as measured by the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment or the Keystone Exams." Thus, the religious opt out does not apply to PBAs.

Did the state of Pennsylvania actually just admit that its projects are not a "...valid and reliable measurement of student performance on a set of academic standards..." ? Hmmm....

Here are the most recent Pennsylvania Department of Education Keystone results, from the spring 2013 exams:

38.6 percent of 94,939 tested students passed the Algebra I test.

35.7 percent of 46,998 tested students passed the biology exam. 

49.9 percent of 42,815 tested students passed the English literature exam. 

They want us to think that our kids have failed because our schools have failed. Yet we know their tests have failed. It is wrong to send the message that our kids aren't successful from one high stakes exam.

"Tracy Karwoski, a parent and vice president of the Garnet Valley School Board in Delaware County, said her daughter, whose weighted GPA stands at 3.987, isn’t a great standardized test taker and is very concerned by them. Karwoski’s daughter took the algebra I exam, one of three proposed, and has not scored proficiently on one yet.

“'It’s painful to hear a child ask repeatedly if she’s stupid. Again, from a student with a 3.987 GPA,' Karwoski said."

A 3.97 GPA suddenly isn't enough, according to Governor Corbett. 
I wonder what his high school GPA was...


  1. I read this post awhile ago and have since revisited it 2 or 3 times. I am curious to know - what does a parent wishing to fight this do?

  2. We can form a movement. Check out Parents Across America - Suburban Philadelphia. Private message them. We all have to come together and make our voices heard.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts