Eliminate Standardized Tests in Pennsylvania for High School Students
Eliminate Standardized Tests in Pennsylvania for High School Students
Why this petition matters
Standardized testing and tests have been used for years now in high school and there has always been a debate about removing them from the schooling system or implementing them into the schooling system. I made this petition because I have dealt with these standardized tests and so have my peers, all of the people that I have talked to are always stressed out, are anxious, and have issues with these tests, and I do not believe that students should be dealing with such high levels of stress, especially from a test that the state mandates. School should be an environment where students can explore different topics and acquire different subjects of knowledge without being forced to take tests that do not pertain to them. Standardized testing has always been an issue, and something should be done about it, especially in the time period we are living through right now!
The PSSA's, which are taken and administered between grades 3-8, are meant to measure what students know and have learned according to Pennsylvania's world-class academic standards. I believe that the PSSA's aren't an accurate measure of this because there are some students who do pay attention in class, and there are some who don't, and some students may not take these tests seriously enough for the state to get an accurate measurement and reading of the student's knowledge. The school district is also a reflection of a student's score on these tests. For example, if a group of students shows poor scores and grades on these tests, it will reflect on the district and teachers and show that maybe the teachers aren't teaching what they need to be teaching, but the students may also be hard at learning, and maybe the teachers are teaching what they should be, therefore it would not be an accurate reading of how the teachers are performing. Nonetheless, these tests cause major stress on students and even the parents of students that take these tests. Students should not be forced to show the state what their teachers are teaching them, because it is not always accurate, and these tests make the students feel like all the pressure is on them, especially young students, because no young student wants to make anybody look bad, and they may not fully understand the purposes of these tests. Most people would agree that these tests cause major amounts of stress and anxiety, nobody that young should be experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety because of what the state is forcing them to do.
The other mandated test that high school students are required to take is the Keystone Exams. These are taken in 9th grade. The purpose of these tests is to help guide school districts toward meeting state requirements. Now, I am putting "state requirements" in bold lettering because state requirements are a huge issue and misconception about students and their knowledge, this is because not every student wants to pursue the same career after high school. Some students may want to go to college, some students may want to go to a trade school and learn a trade like welding, carpentry, etc., and some students may want to self employ themselves after high school and not worry about working for a corporation or a business that they are not the owner of. All of these paths require different levels and different subjects of knowledge. Therefore, the state requirements are not an accurate measurement of knowledge and what students have learned so far in school. My next point is that these tests reflect on the district and teachers, just like the PSSA's, and students are able to retake these tests up until their junior year of high school if they fail, if a student fails, they will also need to participate in a remediation program. If a student still has not passed them after their junior year, they will have to do a Keystone Project. If one of the purposes of these exams is to reflect on the district, then why are students able to retake them if they fail them? If the state wanted an accurate reading, they would only allow students to take these exams once and take information from that test. Nobody should be giving students multiple tries to almost redeem their school district's teaching skills if the school is not teaching them whatever meets "state requirements". Here is a passage from education.pa.gov, "Senate Bill 1095, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 24, 2018, shifted Pennsylvania's reliance on high stakes testing as a graduation requirement to provide alternatives for high school students to demonstrate readiness for postsecondary success. Formerly, Pennsylvania's graduation requirement was more restrictive, requiring most students to pass the Keystone Exams — end of course exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Senate Bill 1095 expanded the options for students to demonstrate postsecondary readiness using four additional pathways that more fully illustrate college, career, and community readiness." I have researched the state requirements multiple times and have spent hours researching this topic and even looking at different school district's websites from schools that reside in Pennsylvania and I still have not gotten a clear answer as to whether students still have to pass them to graduate in 2022 and further on. But, students had to pass these to graduate at one point, which is ridiculous to force a student to do because as I stated before, not every student wants to pursue the same career after high school. Therefore, I do not believe that Keystone Exams should be given to students to take.
The next standardized tests that students are required to take are the SATs, which are taken in 11th grade. These tests measure a student's readiness for college. I believe that these tests are reasonable tests for students to take in high school because the students that do not want to pursue a college career do not have to take these tests. If a student is going to college, then I believe that some sort of testing to determine if a student is ready for college is reasonable, but it also depends on what the student is going to college for. If a student is going to college for pure mathematics and statistics, I do not believe that they should be tested on English subjects, and vice-versa.
The ACTs are generally similar, these tests are taken in the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. My opinion on these tests is the same as my opinion of the SATs. The ACTs test English, math, reading, and science. I still do not believe that a student going to college for mathematical subjects should be tested on science, English, and reading, and the same goes for the opposite of this example.
In conclusion, I believe that standardized tests are inaccurate tests and they put too much stress on students, especially the students finishing their first and last year of high school. Most students in high school have enough stress on them already, and they should not be forced to take inaccurate tests just to meet state requirements.