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Apollo-Ridge opposes tests

| Wednesday, March 26, 2008

High school seniors will have one less test to pass in order to graduate.

School board members voted 6-0 against adopting the proposed state exams that each senior would be required to pass in order to receive diplomas. Directors Dominick Duso, Lance Foster and Jim Ferguson were absent.

A state panel studying ways to improve high school students' preparedness for college and the work force released a study in late 2007 recommending that students take subject-specific "graduation competency exams."

That would be in addition to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests that the state already mandates in reading, writing, math, and science. Seniors would have to pass one set of state tests to graduate.

Pennsylvania's testing proposal is slated to begin with incoming freshman in the 2009-10 school year.

The exams would be the same for all students, whether they are taking college prep or vocational courses, are English language learners or participating in individualized programs, said board president Gregory Primm.

Primm said the new requirements and exams would place new costs on the district relating to curriculum revisions, professional development, test development and validation, test preparation and administration and remediation.

Primm said paper test scores should never be the determining factor in making major decisions about students. A diploma, Primm said, should be granted based on the course work, tests, presentations, projects and papers given throughout each student's years in school.

Gretchen Blystone, who has three children, two still in the district, thanked the board for opposing the proposed testing.

"I have a nurse, (future) carpenter and possibly a future scientist, and I feel that the tests are not a fair representation of what my child can do at Apollo-Ridge," she said.

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