Students who are up against taking the Keystone Exams this May can opt out with no recourse according to the SB 880 legislation. The request must be in writing and can be sent via email or regular mail. I suggest email so that there is a record. Preferably you would get a response via email for your records. However, many school administrators will make a phone call instead so there is no record of what they've said. If that is the case, take notes, write an email stating "Thank you for speaking with me on [DATE] regarding the Keystone Exams where you stated "... " . Provide details of the phone conversation for your records and email it back to them.
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [NAME], excused from Keystone testing. Senate Bill 880, which was signed into legislation by Govenor Wolf on February 3, 2016, states that the use of the Keystone exams shall be delayed until the 2018-2019 school year. For your reference the wording of SB 880 (emphasis added):
(1) Notwithstanding section 2604-B(b)(2)(v), 22 Pa. Code § 4.24 (relating to high school graduation requirements), 4.51 (relating to State assessment system) or 4.51c (relating to project-based assessment) or any statute or regulation to the contrary, the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement or as a benchmark for the need for participation in a project-based assessment shall be delayed until the 2018-2019 school year.
For clarification purposes "Notwithstanding ... or any statute or regulation to the contrary" is a legal statement that covers any and all other state or local regulations and mandates. That means this statement nullifies PA School Codes: 4.24 (relating to high school graduation requirements), 4.51 (relating to State assessment system) or 4.51c (relating to project-based assessment). This also means that a local requirement to pass the Keystone Exams or Project, or Alternative/Remedial class is NULLIFIED for the two years that Act 1 is in effect, until 2019 and beyond.
For further clarification purposes, "... the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement or as a benchmark for the need for participation in a project-based assessment shall be delayed until the 2018-2019 school year.
Thank you for your attention in this matter. If you need to contact me, please do so via email at this address.
What might happen if you opt out? Your child might be threatened with not graduating, they might be told they are mandated to take a remedial type project like Study Island or nothing. However, the legislation supports opting out with no repercussions. If necessary, demand in writing reasons why they require and alternate pathway to the Keystone graduation requirement. I will personally take each to Senator Dinniman for a potential class action law suit against the PDE.
The only action we as parents can take is to opt out - its the only action that has a consequence and that school administrators must respond to. Discussions with school administrators will not have any impact aside from a condescending smile and 'thanks for your input, our hands are tied". If we don't take action, these insidious testing mandates won't change.
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