The article "Legislators Furious as State Board OKs Exams" (May 16) stated, "The state Department of Education has angered opponents of proposed state graduation competency exams with its decision to execute a seven-year $201 million contract. ... The decision this week comes as the state faces an estimated $3 billion budget deficit. Also, the state Legislature had placed a moratorium on the state Board of Education, prohibiting it from advancing the end-of-course tests, known as the Keystone Exams."
I am confused. Do Department of Education decisions supersede those of our state legislators? As a retired teacher I am strongly opposed to any more standardized tests. Some quality students just aren't test takers. After 12 years of school, there should be 12 years of report cards, which show a student's overall year-to-year work, including tests that teachers give with respect to what the required text teaches. Certainly that would be a more efficient criteria for evaluating graduation qualifications than any one standardized test.
Agreed, it takes more time to look over a student's overall record than a few test scores, but when you have a student's future in your hands, time shouldn't matter to a teacher who really cares and wants the best for his or her students.
Then there is the question of money -- the publishing company is the big winner here. Somebody up there likes this publishing company. Since Pennsylvania's budget is $3 billion short, this doesn't seem like the time to be spending $201 million on an unnecessary test. It seems to me our overabundant supply of legislators should overrule the overspending Department of Education on giving an overly unnecessary test.