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Stories tagged: Theme articles

Testing, testing: A look at other assessments


Fabiola Cineas

on Nov 30, 2015 11:14 AM

In Pennsylvania, the PSSAs and Keystones are probably the most familiar standardized tests, in part because of the high stakes associated with them.

But students in the School District of Philadelphia take a number of other assessments each year whose names are less well-known. Some help identify for the teacher that a child is not making sufficient progress in learning to read, and others pinpoint why.

A backlash against pervasive testing


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Nov 25, 2015 04:29 PM

Growing up in China, Janet Zheng got used to taking tests. But she also got used to getting the preparation she needed from her classes, which is why the American system makes no sense to her.

“You take this much test,” she said, holding her hands apart, “with this little knowledge,” pulling them together.

High-stakes tests are being reconsidered


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Nov 24, 2015 03:07 PM

When it comes to standardized testing, Helen Gym and Bill Green may not exactly be on the same page, but they’ve both been reading the same book.

“It’s like any pendulum – has it swung too far in favor of standardized tests? Probably,” said Green, the reform-minded School Reform Commission member and champion of data-driven decisions.

Arts and high test scores co-exist at FACTS Charter


Dale Mezzacappa

on Nov 24, 2015 10:03 AM

Around noon on Wednesdays, the beating of African drums reverberates throughout all five floors of FACTS Charter School in Chinatown.

It’s ensemble time, a staple of the curriculum at FACTS, which stands for Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures. There are six types to choose from, including martial arts, Indonesian dance, and Chinese opera.

Third through 8th graders can participate in an ensemble once a week, which is just one of the folk-arts experiences available at the 10-year-old school.

Reducing the temptation to cheat


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Nov 24, 2015 10:06 AM

Pennsylvania’s long-running standardized test cheating investigation is now well into its fifth year, and officials say there’s still no end in sight.

But even as investigations continue, Congress now stands on the brink of major revisions to the law that many blame for widespread adult cheating on high-stakes tests: the No Child Left Behind Act.

The potential landmark deal would loosen years of federal test-related mandates.

How to measure project-based learning


Connie Langland

on Nov 24, 2015 09:58 AM

By his own account, Khalil Hicks had an excellent first quarter at the Workshop School in West Philadelphia.

He created a website to share information about his life and emerging skills.

The PSSA and Keystone exams: The basics


Dan Hardy and Paul Jablow

on Nov 24, 2015 09:42 AM

What are the PSSAs and the Keystones?

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) launched the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) in 1992. They are standardized tests administered annually and are based on state standards for what students should know and be able to do at their grade level.

How race and class relate to standardized tests


Dan Hardy

on Nov 24, 2015 09:47 AM

What is the so-called achievement gap?

In the vast majority of standardized tests, average scores for African American and Latino students are significantly lower than average scores for White and Asian students. Many object to calling this an “achievement gap,” citing vastly different resources available to students in different circumstances. The gap in scores has shrunk over the last few decades, but it is still wide and persistent.

5 things to know about the financial cost of testing


Paul Jablow

on Nov 24, 2015 09:51 AM

1. Pennsylvania’s Gov. Wolf has requested a total of $58.3 million for testing in the current budget.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education contracts with Data Recognition Corp. for the PSSAs and the Keystones. The contracts cover test development, administration, scoring, and reporting. In 2014-15, the company received about $30 million for the PSSAs – about $39 per student tested – and $27 million for the Keystones.

Accommodations for special ed and ELL students

By the Notebook on Nov 24, 2015 09:53 AM

“For both sets of parents, it’s important for them to know what their rights are: Students with disabilities and English language learners [ELLs] are entitled to accommodations on standardized tests. It’s important to discuss these issues with their schools well in advance of when the testing is taking place.

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