Round two of the Keystone State Exam is rapidly approaching for students across the state. The test measures how students and schools measure up to standards set by the state of Pennsylvania.
The newly revised state tests, which replaced the long standing PSSA’s earlier this year are mandatory and administered based on specific course completion.
According to Principal Mark Shue, two things will decide student participation.
If you have completed the subject in past years, or will be this year, or if you didn’t achieve proficient scoring in math or literature the first time around you must take them.
He also noted “If you completed the Biology portion you’re finished whether you passed or not.” This could mean good news for those who have completed their obligations and can expect late arrival on the days of testing.
The purpose of the exam according to the state is to ensure that students in the development of their high school career are proficient in the standards of the course they have just completed.
The scores from each class will be used to assess certain factors. For instance the production of AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), which will hold the school district accountable for certain goals, the school must meet within the subgroups of a school district.
The subgroups can be anything from what class you belong to what type of economic background your family is in. Technically referred to as cohorts the groups are then compared with a number of variables to determine the success of Pennsylvania Public Schools.
Mr. Shue addressed some of the logistics, and weaknesses of the test in a speaking engagement with Mrs. Kelkis’ Journalism Class
“There are many variables, and it’s hard to make sense of it all. What may be overlooked [with standardized tests] is how well an individual grows throughout a school year. You may have a student enter a grade with a third grade reading level and that student may make significant personal improvement throughout the school year because of an important English teacher. However his progress, no matter how great, is overlooked if he doesn't achieve the number set by the State.”
He adds, “Perhaps the best way to judge how a school is running is too look at what [students] know going in, and what [students] know coming out.”
Mr. Shue also pointed out through last year's test results that Red Lion had a perceivable weakness in Literacy. This lent itself to the creation of this school years “Literacy Block”.
“The importance of reading and writing reaches all core subject areas. The building wide focus this year is on our weakness. That’s why Literacy Block is in place. The success from this shift can be seen with the junior class and their ten percent increase in scores compared to those of the class before them.”