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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: May 15, 2013 03:40 PM
From: Representative Mike Tobash
To: All House members
Subject: Proposed Legislation: Keystone Exams

I believe in the need for accountability and measurement, and that when we set higher goals we achieve more.

However, at the expense of over $200 million, the Commonwealth has implemented three Keystone Exams that are taking place in our public schools right now in order to fulfill the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Current law states that an additional seven exams are required for development and implementation beyond NCLB requirements.

While understanding the necessity of measurement and accountability, we must be careful:
  • not to allow standardized tests to become the focal point of education.
  • not to waste taxpayer money, potentially $100’s of millions more.
  • not to continue without knowledge of outcomes and unintended consequences.
  • not to narrow curriculum and do away with classes that effectively achieve practical learning that leads to a broader, stronger workforce.
I am preparing to introduce legislation that will halt the Department of Education from the development and implementation of additional Keystone Exams for ten years.

Under current law, PDE is required, subject to annual appropriation, to develop and to implement Keystone Exams in the following subjects: algebra I, literature, biology, English composition, algebra II, geometry, United States history, chemistry, civics and government, and world history. All exams must be in place not later than the 2020-2021 school year. PDE has developed and implemented Keystone Exams in algebra I, literature, and biology and has developed and will soon field test Keystone Exams in English composition and in civics and government.

My proposal will extend the time period for the development of the remaining five Keystone Exams by prohibiting their development and implementation prior to the 2022-2023 school year. My bill also will eliminate the requirement that PDE develop these remaining five exams, and instead allow PDE to develop them, subject to annual appropriation. Further, my proposal will require the State Board of Education to amend its regulations concerning academic assessments accordingly.

Prohibiting the further development of these Exams will:
  • give the Commonwealth’s schools time to adapt to the Exams and the corresponding Common Core Standards and
  • allow the legislature and PDE to understand both the advantages and the unintended consequences of the Keystone Exams.
I believe this legislation will give us the time to make sure our costly accountability measures promote the right kind of rigor in our schools.

Standardization does not produce outstanding results. Individualism creates outstanding results!

Thank you for your consideration.

View Attachment

Introduced as HB1506