Monday, October 13, 2014

What Students Are Saying About Keystone Exams

These are tweets on Twitter - search: algebra keystone
I can hear you sighing from here! The worst part is that the Algebra 1 Keystone tests Algebra 2 content!
well third time was not the charm for my algebra keystone
cause instead of making them take geometry how they made us the go to algebra to get ready for the keystone
I just got my keystone results and Dad: You failed your algebra test. Me: The test didn't work on me. Dad: Me: They call it Divergent.
If I don't pass this keystone tomorrow and am forced to take another remedial algebra class I quit school. 
Yeah I am not passing the Algebra Keystone
Well... looks like I will have to keep retaking my algebra keystone untill senior year...
if i failed the algebra keystone the first time, don't make me retake it because im just gonna fail it again. math is over rated
i already know im going to fail the algebra keystone
People in Precalc and calculus really should not have to take an algebra 1 keystone...
Yeah PA let's make the calc kids take the algebra 1 keystone
Okay so it's official I'm failing the algebra I keystone I barely knew it in 8th grade when we did it what makes you think I remember it?-.-
If you can't pass an Algebra I keystone you should probably get your box ready because that's where you're going to end up living
 This algebra keystone is a real inconvenience to my life 
 How I feel after taking the algebra keystone...

  Me about this algebra keystone tomorrow.. Embedded image permalink

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Keystone Exam Results Spring 2014

Pennsylvania Common Core Keystone Exam Results 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has been able, but un-willing to release the Keystone Exam results for Spring 2014.  I found this on a school district’s website, full report can be read HERE.

Statewide results for Spring 2014

Algebra 1:  40.1% of students scored Proficient or Advanced

203,357 total students tested     81,470 students PASSED     121,887 students to RE-TEST

Biology:  41.4%  of students scored Proficient or Advanced
164,757 total students tested     68,215 students PASSED     96,532 students to RE-TEST

Literature:  52.4% of students scored Proficient or Advanced
111,612 total students tested     75,076 students PASSED     68,222 students to RE-TEST

NOTE:  These tests are cut-scored by temporary employees paid $11-$13/hr with no background in education necessary.  The cut is determined AFTER the students raw scores are in.  See more about the cut-scores HERE

Statewide results for RE-TESTERS (students who tested 1 or more times already).  The students below who did not pass will re-test AGAIN and/or take a remedial class and the Project Based Assessment:

Algebra 1

80,591 students re-tested and 21.8% passed
63,035 students to re-test AGAIN


40,7615 students re-tested and 11.7% passed
42,061 students to re-test AGAIN 

31,686 students re-tested and 20.2% passed
25,273 students to re-test AGAIN
  • Will parents, teachers and students have access to student-specific information prior to re-testing?
  • What student-specific information is provided from the Keystone exam results that shows a student strengths and weakness in the eligible content area?
  • What is the cost for the Keystone Exams, the re-test, the remedial class and the PBA?  Are these cost-effective efficient ways to educate students or a waste of time and money?  Has there been any review prior to Keystone test administration to know these answers?
  • Will students be removed from an elective class or a core class for a Keystone remedial class?
  • Who writes the questions for the Keystone Exams, are they educators and do they have a background in education? 
Colleges and prospective employers DO NOT consider the Keystone Exams in any capacity yet students FORCED to spend 20% or more of their time in a class during the school year on test prep and testing resulting in lost instructional time for a single test.  This is not education.  Our students are unpaid employees to political and corporate interest groups who are making billions of dollars a year on these insidious tests.
Parents can let the PDE know their questions, issues or concerns regarding the Keystone Exams.
John Weiss, Director, Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Assessment and Accountability can be reached via email at:

Monday, October 6, 2014

PSSA's - What Are They Good For?

Every year Pennsylvania students spend about 35% of class time per subject during the school year on test prep and testing days for the PSSA's.

What is the educational value of the PSSA's?  

The PSSA's are used to rate teachers and schools for state funding.  There is no educational value for parents, teachers or students.  Yet, students are spending 35% of their time A YEAR in 3rd through 8th grade on the PSSA's.

PSSA scores are sent out in September when students are already promoted to their next grade and with their new teacher(s).  Teachers, parents and students do not get any student-specific information for educational learning opportunities.

What education information is provided from such time consuming test prep and testing schedule?  (This is from a student who was opted out of the PSSA's so there are no scores.)

That is it.  No educational opportunity for teachers to review with their students their strengths and weaknesses.

The testing window's for administrating the PSSA's for the 2014-2015 school year is:
April 13, 14, 15, 16, 17                        May 1, 13, 14, 15
April 20, 21, 22, 23, 24                        May 18, 19, 20, 21
April 27, 28, 29, 30                              May 26, 27
This is a total of 24 school days out of 42 school days during the moths of April and May.  58% of time in school for those two months is scheduled for testing which translates also to 58% of lost instructional time.  Even though there is about 42% of class time not scheduled for testing, this is time devoted to test prep or 'down time' for students.   Regular classroom instruction and homework is not occurring during this testing window schedule so the students can focus on the PSSA's.

Consider also that there are 180 school days a year.  Students are spending 14% per school year taking the PSSA's.  That doesn't include the time they spend throughout the year doing test prep like Study Island, or CDT's as described HERE which totals about 20% of time in a class per subject each year.

In teacher administered and scored tests; teachers, parents and students have instant feedback as to what their strengths are and can review their incorrect answers as an educational learning opportunity.  There is no such opportunity with the PSSA.
Opting out is simple and your request cannot be denied.  Go HERE for information on how to Opt Out of the PSSA's.