By Heather Campbell
Science Leadership Juniors will begin testing for the Keystone Exams starting on Tuesday, January 15th. This is the first time the Keystone Exams are being introduced to the Philadelphia School District, replacing the previous PSSA exam.
The Keystone Exams are the new state mandated end-of-course test designed to determine the status of high schools and their students proficiency in core subjects. The exam will test the students’ understanding of Literature, Algebra I, and Biology.
As a part of the national No Child Left Behind laws, each year the school has to hit certain percentages in testing to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress.
“This year it’s important because it’s how SLA is measured against other schools in Philly,” stated Testing Coordinator and Math Teacher Mark Miles.
Right now, the tests are only used to assess the school. Starting for the class of 2017, however, the Keystone Exams will become a graduation requirement for all students.
According to the Philadelphia School District, the state plans to introduce more exams as part of the graduation requirements. A Composition exam is expected to commence in 2019 and a Civics and Government exam in 2020. A Geometry, U.S. History, Algebra II, Chemistry, and World History exam may be implemented for voluntary use.
For the past couple of months, juniors have been preparing for the exams. “In English and Math class, we’ve had review packets and quizzes,” commented Junior Jhonas Dunakin, “It’s kind of like a refresher from what you learnt from before.”
With all of the review, Juniors are both feeling the pressure to perform and starting to get burned out on the practice.
“I want it to be finished. It’s taking away from what we usually do,” stated Junior Victoria Yarbrough, “We put on hold our trigonometry, which I really need to know, for something I already know.”
The juniors are not the only ones preparing for the exams. Mr. Miles has been running training sessions for proctoring during professional development. Being a school that does not hold much value in testing, the faculty and staff have a tradition to make the experience more bearable.
“It started with Mr. Chase, who didn’t like the whole testing coordinator thing, so he gave himself a different nickname.” commented Mr. Miles. This tradition has allowed the testing coordinators to give themselves a different persona to separate themselves from the position.
“There is the educator, who we are normally,” said Mr. Miles, “and then there is the testing coordinator.”
This year the juniors’ Keystone Exams are run by Marky Mark and his helpers, the Funky Bunch.