The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

November 27, 2012

Pa. students to take 1st Keystone Exams soon

PHILADELPHIA — School districts statewide will begin administering new standardized tests next week in math, English and science, exams that eventually all students will have to pass to earn a high school diploma.

The first wave of Keystone Exams starts Monday. Districts will begin testing all juniors in algebra 1, literature and biology; students in lower grades who have finished courses in those subjects will take the exams as well.

For 11th-graders, the Keystones replace the longstanding tests known as the PSSAs, or Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. Scores will have no bearing on students' academic records.

However, this year's eighth-graders will need to pass all three exams by their senior year in 2017 to graduate from high school.

Some districts are wary of the change. Students who took practice Keystone tests last year did not do well: less than 40 percent scored well enough to pass algebra I and biology, while about half made the grade in literature.

The suburban Philadelphia district of Council Rock is among those giving the exams next week. One concern is that many 11th-graders took algebra 1 so long ago that they need refresher lessons, Superintendent Mark Klein said.

The bigger issue, Klein said, is that while the district had a general idea how students would perform each year on the PSSAs, it's hard to predict how the new exams will match up with class material and teaching.

"We don't have a baseline for Keystones," he said.

State officials have attributed the poor showing on practice Keystones to unaligned curricula. Education Department spokesman Tim Eller said schools have been slowly shifting instruction toward the Common Core standard, on which the Keystones are based.

The tests, considered end-of-course assessments, are not pegged to a grade level. They feature multiple-choice and short-answer questions and are not timed; each exam is expected to take two to three hours. Students who fail any test can retake it multiple times.

The first Keystone testing window runs from Monday through Dec. 14. Other testing dates are Jan. 9-23, May 13-24 and, for summer school, July 29-Aug. 2.

Beginning with the juniors' results this year, state officials want English and math Keystones to replace the PSSAs for calculating the federal benchmark known as AYP — or "adequate yearly progress." Federal officials have not yet sanctioned the change, but Eller said the state expects approval since the Keystones are more rigorous than the PSSAs.

Starting with the class of 2019, students will have to pass Keystones in algebra 1, literature, biology and composition. For the class of 2020, students must pass those four plus a test in civics/government.

As funding allows, more Keystones will be developed in subjects such as chemistry, geometry, algebra 2 and world history. Those could be used for additional graduation requirements as districts see fit, Eller said.

State regulators first approved the Keystones in 2009. The tests were originally supposed to count as part of a student's course grade, but that is no longer true.

___

Follow Kathy Matheson at www.twitter.com/kmatheson

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • WilliamsA ‘I thought I was going to die’

    Hornerstown resident Robert “Bobby” Williams said he endured two hours of surgery, suffered a heart attack and fears he may never again be able to fully use his right arm.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • JFD traing Firefighters practice river rescues

    Johnstown Fire Department members lift a “victim” out of the rescue basket during training Wednesday along the Stonycreek River flood-control wall

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • sewer meeting map Sewer work will tie up traffic

    Brace yourselves.
    This summer’s sewer main replacement project will delay traffic with detours, closed streets and lane restrictions through one of Johnstown’s notoriously snarled neighborhoods.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • USS Somerset USS Somerset arrives at San Diego homeport

    The USS Somerset is home.
    The amphibious transport dock ship named in honor of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93 arrived at its new homeport of Naval Base San Diego on Monday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jablonski, Stephen Charges filed in courthouse bomb threat

    A Johnstown man was charged by Ebensburg Borough police Wednesday with threatening to blow up the Cambria County Courthouse, a call he admitted to Ebensburg police he made Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vizza, Peter Vizza voted deputy mayor

    The top vote-getter in last year’s Johnstown City Council election is now also the city’s deputy mayor.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conemaugh Township rezoning opens business possibilities

    A portion of South Main Street in Davidsville will be rezoned to give greater allowances to the businesses along the road.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sculptor’s work to be raffled off

    The work of a local sculptor will be raffled off during the Art in Bloom show.

    April 23, 2014

  • Katie and Gary Lamer Birthday remembrance bash provides aid to region

    It’s been four years since Johnstown resident Gary Lamer died of complications from pneumonia, but his memory lives on through an annual party that gives back in a big way.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • UPJ graduation Graduation ceremonies planned at area colleges

    College seniors will soon sport their caps and gowns and receive the diplomas they’ve worked hard to achieve.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads