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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: May 13, 2015 02:34 PM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: County-wide School Assessments
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation that would require the State Board of Education, in consultation with every board of school directors located in each county, to develop assessments to be administered in lieu of the statewide standardized tests. The legislation would also further eliminate the required passage of either county-wide or statewide assessments in order to graduate high school.

High-stakes standardized testing, such as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSAs) or the Keystone Exams, is a deterrent to innovative and creative teaching, and is not an accurate reflection of our students’ abilities. For example, Philadelphia is the largest school district in Pennsylvania and the eighth largest in the country. The high school graduation rate is about 65 percent and less than half of all students managed to score proficient or above on the 2013 PSSA.

The answer to helping our failing students and struggling school districts is not more of the same testing and making the passage of these tests a graduation requirement. Too much time is already spent teaching students how to take the tests rather than teaching them skills they need to succeed in high school and life beyond.

Instead, we need to look at each school entity at the county level and tailor the test accordingly. We need to recognize the unique needs of each student, acknowledge the differences in geographic areas and develop tests to suit those needs. By administering county-wide school assessments, we can better see where students and school districts are struggling and work to address those specific issues. You can’t get this type of individualism with blanket state assessments.

I ask that you join me by co-sponsoring this legislation. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925.

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Introduced as HB1395