Kutztown opts to place Keystone Exam results on transcripts

Patriot photo by Lisa Mitchell Kutztown School Board member James Shrawder, far left, expresses concerns about making the Keystone Exam part of graduation requirements on Monday night.

Kutztown School Board members approved placing Keystone Exam results on high school transcripts Monday night, and tabled making the exam part of graduation requirements.

Beginning Thursday, 9th, 10th and 11th graders will begin taking the Keystone Exams, new state standardized testing of which every high school must meet AYP. The test is on Algebra 1, Literature and Biology.

Previously, school board members and administration debated whether or not to make passing the Keystone Exam at a certain proficiency level part of the high school graduation requirements starting in 2014 to give the exam “some teeth” by holding students accountable and give them motivation to do well on the test.

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Principal Rebecca Beidelman said that the majority of the 29 Kutztown High School teachers who responded to a survey are comfortable with making the proficiency level requirement 60 percent, some were lower at 50 percent.

If a student does not meet proficiency, there will be multiple opportunities to retest.

“In terms of a safety net, the general consensus is some sort of project based assessment that’s aligned to the standards and gives opportunities to demonstrate proficiency in areas outside of a standardized test,” said Beidelman. “Everybody agrees it needs to be rigorous enough to be a compliment to the exam if they cannot test well.”

Many school board members once again on Monday night expressed their concerns about making passing the Keystones by a certain proficiency level a graduation requirement because they know little about the test and the state has not yet set its own proficiency level requirements for AYP.

“I thought the idea was to put some teeth into the test so it’s important, relevant to students,” said board member Patricia Bealer. “Encourage some reward.”

“I could go along with some type of teeth. I’m reluctant to go along with making it a graduation requirement, that’s not just a little bit of teeth,” said board member James Shrawder.

Board member Amy Faust asked about putting results on the high school transcripts.

“For me that’s preferable. That’s puts some teeth into it,” said Shrawder. “I’m just really reluctant to add another graduation requirement.”

His concern was that there may be students who would rather opt to not graduate than put the effort forth to pass the Keystone Exam or fulfill the alternative requirement.

Board member Kurt Friehauf motioned that the Keystone Exam results be listed on high school transcripts. He said to try to give the Keystones teeth, instead of fangs.

Shrawder seconded the motion. The board voted 6-2 approving Keystone results be placed on transcripts. Craig Schroeder and Bealer voted no. Al Darion was absent.

Making the Keystone Exam part of graduation requirements was tabled and will be discussed at the Dec. 10 Student Achievement Committee meeting at 7 p.m. in the high school library.