Centre County Schools Discuss Standardized Testing

Centre County Schools Discuss Standardized Testing

An issue at the center of debate in schools across the nation is taking center stage Thursday night in Central PA.
CENTRE COUNTY - An issue at the center of debate in schools across the nation is taking center stage Thursday night in Central Pennsylvania.

Standardized testing has been around in Pennsylvania schools since 1998, with the start of PSSA's and now, high school students have to complete and pass Keystone Exams in order to graduate.

A seminar is being held in State College to discuss standardized testing. The goal of the meeting is to create discussion among educators and parents.

Organizers want parents to understand the resources and time schools are investing in these state-mandated tests and to give their opinion of whether or not they agree with them.

"As a parent I have concerns," parent Joy Vincent-Killian, said.

Her son is dyslexic. For him, school didn't always come easy, especially standardized tests.

"You lose out on the ability for a teacher to say okay, I understand maybe you can't write as well, maybe your comprehension isn't as high, but let me have you express it in a different way," Vincent-Killian said.

Teachers allowed her son to write plays, telling the stories he need to learn about for history class. Some teachers allowed him to illustrate, instead of having to write it.

Vincent-Killian said it's not just about the students.

"In a way, it pits teachers against one another," she said. "It eliminates the collaborative nature of what teachers have in schools."

David Hutchinson is on the board of the State College Area School District and is organizing Thursday's Public Issues forum. He said standardized tests like PSSA's, based on the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, aren't just used to test students. They also evaluate how educators are performing.

"I don't think people are completely aware how much, in terms of resources, is going on into the testing," Hutchinson said. "Part of the conversation we hope to have Thursday is are we willing to make those trade-offs? Are there better ways to spend our money?"

"It does make a difference to participate," Vincent-Killian said. "It makes a difference for parents to come out and tell their individual stories and help the school board members understand the whys and the hows."

The meeting will be held at Schlow Library in State College from 6:00 to 8:30 Thursday night. Anyone is welcome to attend.
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