Pattye Benson

Community Matters

PA Gives Final Nod to High School Exam Requirements

Pennsylvania has given its final nod to high school graduation exam requirements. A couple of weeks ago Attorney General Tom Corbett signed off on the paperwork to create Keystone Exams. I knew that this subject had been bantered about over the last couple of years with much back-and-forth over the merits of graduation test requirements for all high school students – didn’t know that it had received final approval. Keystone Exams had received the support of the Senate education committee, the state Board of Education and the Department of Education and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association and was just waiting on final approval from the Attorney General. The Keystone Exam plan will be a series of 10 end-of-course exams in a variety of subjects. I guess the thought is to create an insurance policy for the school districts and a way to gauge all the students. The Keystone Exams could replace the 11th grade School Assessment test, and would count for at least 1/3 of a student’s final grade in that particular subject. With Corbett’s signature, the only remaining hurdle is getting the new regulation published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. The tests would be introduced for the class of 2015. Some of the exams will be available for district review in the 2010-11 school year.

Looking at the cost of the Keystone Exams which is estimated at to be $160 million overall, spread over seven years, how does this affect our local school district budget Pennsylvania is grappling with budgets, how does this hefty price tag effect local budgeting requirements? Or does it? It would seem that the Keystone Exam is a done deal, so we live with the spending of the money; I’m just wondering how we pay for it. I have some doubts on the overall effectiveness of this exam; I would like further validation that speaks to that topic. But regardless of my thoughts on the effectiveness of the exam, this new legislature appears to now be in place.

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