By Mike Sanders
Change is coming to the state of Pennsylvania. It won’t start until next year, but according to the current plans, it will have a major effect the incoming Freshmen.
The new Keystone State Exams are supposed to replace the PSSAs, which are currently given to 11th Graders.
There have been questions and speculations for weeks about this change. But now area schools are starting to get some answers. All of the information was obtained in a school district meeting by History Teacher Juan Gabriel Sanchez. Principal Lehmann was also briefed on the change at a Principal meeting earlier in the year.
The current plan is to switch from PSSAs to the Keystone exams starting next year. In a few years, they will also count as a graduation requirement. That is scheduled to start for the Class of 2017, who will be entering SLA this fall.
Students were pleased to hear this. “ Whew, that’s a relief,” said Junior Winston Wright. “I know everyone will be upset taking the SATs, ACTs, PSSAs and Keystones in the past 2 years.”
The Keystone state exams are a Standardized State test like the PSSAs, with a few key differences. Instead of Juniors taking them in March and April, the exams can be taken anytime when the three certain classes are complete. Those three classes are Algebra 1, English 2 and Biology.
Teachers at SLA feel that the tests are unknown, so they have yet to pass judgment on the exams.
“It is important to have multiple strategies to find out what students know.” said Science Teacher Gamal Sherif.
There are concerns as well, however.
“I’m worried that they will change the new set standard of teaching,” said Mr. Sherif.
One issue is with students who will finish Algebra 1 class in 7th or 8th grade. That means that those students will have to take the Keystone state exams for Algebra before they come to SLA. Their scores will affect their future high school’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) before they even get accepted into the school. Their scores will reflect on the school’s math performance are before SLA even knows who their students are.
As for the format, content, and scheduling of these tests, the details are still unknown.
“It’s disappointing that people who were educators are very theoretical, and they’re making decisions about the students’ future,” said Sanchez.
Though nobody knows exactly what the test will be like, everybody knows one thing. Change is coming.