The Pennsylvania school system does not measure the success of a school on their student’s intellectual ability, but instead on whether or not their students are able to sit through and pass multiple mind-boggling and strenuous tests. If a school’s standardized test scores are high, then educators are praised for being effective.
But if a school’s scores are lower than average, then the school’s educators are seen as ineffective. The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) began being implemented in elementary schools across the commonwealth in 1998. These tests were administered to students in grades third through eighth in English language arts classes.
In 2013, schools across Pennsylvania switched from the PSSA Exams to the Keystone Exams. The state created the new exam to scale back subject material, instead of covering 10 subject matter tests, students would now be required to cover three.
The two most commonly used standardized tests are achievement tests and aptitude tests. An achievement standardized test is used to evaluate a school’s effectiveness, while an aptitude standardized test is used to predict how a student will perform on the SATS or the ACTS.
But the real question is, have the PSSA’s and the newly-renovated Keystone Exams actually prepare children for the SATs, ACTs, or even college?
While the Keystone Exams are significantly easier than the prior PSSA Exams, the state of Pennsylvania should be focused on the quality of a student’s education rather than if they pass a standardized test with flying colors. Testing a student’s knowledge on a subject is very important, but isn’t that what our educators are for?
It is a teacher’s responsibility to test the knowledge of their student. If this is the case, then why does the state feel that it needs to involve itself in a child’s personal education?
Teachers know their students’ educational needs better than anyone else. Instead of having our children stress over whether or not they will pass an unnecessary test, the state school system should be preparing students with essential life skills. High school is the final check point before students either make their way into the workforce or into some type of secondary schooling.
Results from a multi-year College and Career Readiness Survey of more than 165,000 high school students, administered by Young Truth, found that 55 percent of students feel that they are unprepared for college or a career.
Most students coming out of high school don’t understand how to do their taxes, how to successfully budget, how to manage their time or how to write a resume.
The main focus of every high school in Pennsylvania should not be standardized testing, but should be to prepare their students for college or gainful employment.
Many high schools focus solely on their students being academically equipped but lack equipping them with critical life skills so that students can be socially, financially and emotionally prepared.