Keystones: What to expect

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By Maya Shah, Staff Reporter

Annually, students across Pennsylvania take the state-mandated Keystone exam in either Biology, Algebra 1 or American Voices. Scoring within the proficient range in these three tests is a graduation requirement state-wide.The test, which is usually administered in January, May and July, looks incredibly different this year.  

Students enrolled in the three tested subjects in the 2019-2020 school year never had the chance to take the exam and gain proficiency. As a result, the state has created four pathways these students can take to fulfill the requirement. 

Students have the options of  proceeding with the exam as planned, passing the class and attending a four-year college, or passing the class and getting a proficient score on the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or an AP content exam. Students also have the option of passing the Keystone class and fulfilling specific requirements that apply to those attending Conestoga part time, such as TCHS students. The final pathway requires students to provide any additional evidence that shows they have gained proficiency. As of now, students currently enrolled in Keystone classes are still required to take the exam. 

Assistant principal, Chandra Singh, says that the district is currently still filtering through student’s decisions, which were given through a survey sent to parents, about which pathway they will be taking. Singh says even though they have all the responses, there is still a lot of planning to be done.

“Right now, we’re just trying to plan for what that’s going to look like, given the fact that we are in a hybrid environment,” Singh said

Despite the changes, teachers say it hasn’t had a significant effect on their curriculum. Algebra 1 teachers Rebecca Aichele and Colleen McFadden say that Keystone preparation is embedded within their curriculum, so students are ready for the exam. Despite this preparation, Aichele and McFadden agree that it is still a personal decision to take the exam. 

“I would say that you know yourself best, and that’s just a personal decision,” Aichele said.

Student’s seem to be feeling the same, and agree that while changes are major, impact is low. Freshman Shea O’Connell is taking an alternative pathway, deciding to attempt to reach the benchmark score on the PSAT. O’Connell says that the decision was easy for her because she doesn’t really think that standardized tests are worthwhile. However, O’Connell says that safety wise, she sees comfort in the new testing environment, especially given COVID-19 restrictions.

“I don’t think they’re a big deal, like I never really thought that the PSSAs were completely necessary” O’Connell says, “But, I think [testing] would be a little better because there’s less people in the room, and less noise to distract you from your test.”

Despite the rapid changes, teachers are confident that students will do well given the challenges.

“Every student is individual,” Singh said, “We want for all of our students to be successful and for them to gain proficiency on the Keystone.”