By Kassie Boyd, staff writer
The Keystone Exams are designed in order to assess students’ skills in algebra, biology, and literature. The PA Department of Education created the exams in 2011 to measure student performance, and make sure the standards set by the state are being met. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, in 2016, 68.2 percent of student passed the algebra I keystones, 78.6 percent passed the literature, and 65.8 percent passed the biology.
Students who didn’t pass their exams the last time they took them participated in the retakes last week, one of two opportunities available each year. There are ways around the tests, however, if you find yourself unable to get an overall proficient. You can complete either a series of project-based assessments, or if you meet all local requirements, and have approval from your district superintendent.
“It’s a very fair test,” said biology teacher Mrs. Nicole Keller, “You have to know your stuff, but I don’t think it’s too hard. I don’t think it’s too easy.”
Math teacher Mrs. Debbie Houck said, “I think it’s [the algebra] a little harder.” She shared that the test has a lot of algebra II in it, even though it’s for algebra I.
“I don’t think they should be mandatory,” said Mrs. Keller. “There’s honestly just some students who aren’t good at taking tests, and they may never pass.” Critics of making the tests mandatory argue that a few high-stakes tests shouldn’t determine whether or not a student can graduate.
The entire idea behind the Keystone tests is to make sure Pennsylvania is producing students ready to enter college and the workforce.