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December 2015 Vol. 23 No. 3 Focus on Standardized Tests

A backlash against pervasive testing

Photo: Charles Mostoller

Janet Zheng, a Northeast High School junior, says the material she’s learned in class doesn’t align with two Keystone exams she has taken. “We just don’t have time,” she said.


Bill Hangley Jr.

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.

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5 things to know about the financial cost of testing


Paul Jablow

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.

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How to measure project-based learning


Connie Langland

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.

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How race and class relate to standardized tests


Dan Hardy

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.

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