Starting next school year, Pennsylvania will began phasing in Keystone exams—final exams which students could be required to pass in order to graduate, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Starting next year, 11th graders in participating districts will begin taking the exams in biology, literature, and Algebra 1; by 2015, students now in 7th grade would be expected to take six Keystone exams to graduate. The Keystone exams look to replace the state-run Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, of which 50 percent or more 11th graders failed (in math or reading) in 132 of the state’s 500 districts last year.
The Keystone exams will be issued by the state, meaning the tests and their curriculum will be state, not district controlled. The issue of state control has raised hackles, despite the fact that districts can opt out of the tests. Thus far, 33 districts have approved the tests for use in their schools, while 70 districts passed resolutions this year to oppose the tests.
Among the individuals who have expressed concern is Joan Duvall-Flyyn, president of a local NAACP chapter, who worries that the tests will “hold children accountable for the failures of the system.”
And with the $176 million price tag to implement the Keystone exams, others believe the money could be better spent. Regarding the funding, Lawrence Feinberg, a member of the Haverford School District school board, suggested, “give it to the kids who need it—that’s where the money should go.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.