PSEA Opposes Converting
Keystone Exams to Graduation Tests

HARRISBURG – Students should not be required to pass Pennsylvania’s Keystone Exams in order to graduate from high school, a move the State Board of Education has proposed that negatively impacts student learning, usurps local school boards’ power to set graduation requirements, and could cost school districts as much as $300 million, the president of Pennsylvania’s largest school employee union said today.

Mike Crossey, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, encouraged members of the Senate and House Education Committees to join Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester) in opposing the regulatory change, which would convert the Keystone Exams from end-of-course exams to high-stakes tests on which students must score proficient in order to graduate.

“This takes high-stakes testing to a dangerous and counterproductive new level,” Crossey said. “It replaces the professional judgment of a teacher who has observed a student’s work over a full year. We will have students who have worked hard and received good grades who won’t graduate because of a single test on one day. It’s another bad idea that is bad for students.”

Crossey pointed out that narrowing graduation decisions to performance on a single high-stakes test does a disservice to all students, because it will likely force school districts to narrow instruction to the tested subjects, and limit learning and enrichment opportunities that represent the kind of well-rounded curriculum that students need to be prepared for success after graduation.

In addition, the Commonwealth is not offering resources to pay the cost of remedial instruction for students who do not pass this exam.

“After nearly $1 billion in Gov. Tom Corbett’s funding cuts, this is more than school districts can bear,” Crossey said. “School districts are struggling to pay for programs that work for students, the last thing they need is to pay for yet another testing scheme that doesn’t work for students.”

Crossey also indicated that the State Board of Education has no authority to make this dramatic policy change, because state law does not authorize the use of the Keystone Exams as graduation requirements and because the State Board’s proposal interferes with local school boards’ power to make graduation decisions.

“The State Board has exceeded its authority and is attempting to impose bad public policy on Pennsylvania’s public school students,” Crossey said. “I urge lawmakers to put the best interests of students first and say ‘no’ to this regulation.”

Crossey is a special education teacher in the Keystone Oaks School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents more than 183,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

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