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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: June 12, 2017 04:05 PM
From: Senator Ryan P. Aument
To: All Senate members
Subject: Extending Keystone Exam Moratorium and Directing Review of Assessment and Accountability Systems
In recent years, discussions on standardized testing and the effectiveness of the data they produce have intensified. Across the country, teachers, parents, and administrators are engaging in a debate over the way standardized testing is administered and how the scores it produces should be used.

Recently, the Senate Education Committee held two hearings on possible alternatives to the Keystone Exams and how this change could impact Pennsylvania’s current accountability and educator effectiveness system. The testimony shared at these hearings was very informative and raised some interesting points that I believe require further deliberation.

Specifically, I believe further investigation is necessary to determine if possible alternatives to the Keystone Exams, such as the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), align to the Pennsylvania Core Standards that were put in place in 2010, if such a shift in this assessment would require costly curriculum realignment, and if these alternative assessments should be used as a measure of teacher effectiveness.

It is for these reasons that I intend to introduce legislation that would direct the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee (LBFC) to study the effectiveness of standardized testing, including the Keystone Exams and SATs, and their use as indicators of student academic achievement, school building performance, and educator effectiveness.

Further, my bill would extend the moratorium on the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the LBFC concludes its study. During this moratorium, my bill would temporarily remove the Keystone Exam data from being used as a measure of teacher effectiveness.

As the prime sponsor of the teacher evaluation system enacted in Act 82 of 2012, I have been committed to providing school districts with the tools to identify, aid, and in some cases, terminate ineffective teachers.

Most importantly, the educator effectiveness system was developed to improve student academic performance, by giving our educators useful, meaningful, and actionable feedback to help them improve and share best practices.

It is vital that we ensure all stakeholders have full confidence in our assessment and accountability systems. By tasking the LBFC with this study and temporarily suspending the use of Keystone Exams for graduation and teacher evaluation purposes, I believe we will have the pertinent information from stakeholders to thoughtfully improve upon the system that is currently in place.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this approach to improving Pennsylvania’s accountability measures to the benefit of our schools, teachers, and students.

Introduced as SR322