Should the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) approve the Keystone exams, every public high school student in the state will be required to take course-ending exams. Those exams, starting with the current eighth-grade class, will also be a requirement to graduate from high school.
"The Keystone exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content. The exams are designed to measure the state’s Common Core Standards, which, a PDE document states, are aligned toward college and workplace success," according to the PDE.
Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Rotoli presented the public and school board with the implications and the consequences of the Keystone exams at the last school board meeting on Nov. 1.
Students who have been identified as IEP will be assessed on a project-based program designed by the state "that will show and demonstrate their competency in these subjects," said Rotoli. In addition, for students who have failed the course-end exams twice will also be able to use this alternative program.
Fred Brown, a math coach for Haverford School District, said the project-based program for math may include a long math problem that would be divided into separate steps. For example, according to Brown, if a student completed the second step of the problem they would then submit it to a math teacher in the district.
The teacher will then check for accuracies and will either approve their answers or send it back to the send. Brown said the student has the choice–at any time during this process–to stop the project and ask a teacher for help. Though they can't ask for help on that specific problem, but teachers may be able to help students with the same concept that the math problem is addressing, said Brown. Once all the steps and processes have been completed, the problem will then be sumitted to a regional group of educators who will score the problem.
"My feeling is, if we do our job here at Haverford as we go through those steps with the tutor, that that student will have no problems passing this project-based assessment," said Brown.
According to Rotoli, no disucssion has been made on changing the look of high school transcripts in Pennsylvania, regardless if a student passes the Keystone exams or the project-based program.
View Haverford's presentation in the photo gallery to the right for more information on the Keystone exams.