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Stories tagged: January

Reducing the temptation to cheat


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Dec 8, 2015 02:09 PM

Pennsylvania’s long-running standardized test cheating investigation is now well into its fifth year, and officials say there’s still no end in sight.

But even as investigations continue, Congress now stands on the brink of major revisions to the law that many blame for widespread adult cheating on high-stakes tests: the No Child Left Behind Act.

Arts and high test scores co-exist at FACTS Charter


Dale Mezzacappa

on Dec 7, 2015 12:33 PM

Around noon on Wednesdays, the beating of African drums reverberates throughout all five floors of FACTS Charter School in Chinatown.

It’s ensemble time, a staple of the curriculum at FACTS, which stands for Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures. There are six types to choose from, including martial arts, Indonesian dance, and Chinese opera.

Appeals ruling explains time limits


Sonja D. Kerr and Jennifer Y. Sang

on Dec 3, 2015 02:31 PM

Parents of children with disabilities need to be aware of a new legal case that affects families’ rights. Recently, in G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained how long parents can wait to bring a legal action if they do not like the special education services the school district is providing their child.

When a parent takes legal action about special education services, there are three kinds of remedies. First, the court can order improved services at a public school. Second, the court can order reimbursement for services the parents have purchased while the public school program was deficient, including tutoring, speech therapy, other therapies, evaluation costs, and even private school. Finally, the court can order compensatory education services.

How to measure project-based learning


Connie Langland

on Dec 2, 2015 11:46 AM

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.

Can you solve these 6th-grade math questions?

By the Notebook on Dec 1, 2015 02:45 PM

The following multiple-choice questions are from a selection of sample test items provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the 6th-grade PSSA exam in math. Calculator use is permitted. The exam also includes open-ended questions where students are expected to explain their answers.


High-stakes tests are being reconsidered


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Dec 1, 2015 01:20 PM

When it comes to standardized testing, Helen Gym and Bill Green may not exactly be on the same page, but they’ve both been reading the same book.

“It’s like any pendulum – has it swung too far in favor of standardized tests? Probably,” said Green, the reform-minded School Reform Commission member and champion of data-driven decisions.

Testing, testing: A look at other assessments


Fabiola Cineas

on Nov 30, 2015 12:14 PM

In Pennsylvania, the PSSAs and Keystones are probably the most familiar standardized tests, in part because of the high stakes associated with them.

But students in the School District of Philadelphia take a number of other assessments each year whose names are less well-known. Some help identify for the teacher that a child is not making sufficient progress in learning to read, and others pinpoint why.

A backlash against pervasive testing


Bill Hangley Jr.

on Nov 25, 2015 05:29 PM

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.

December edition editorial cartoon


Eric Joselyn

on Nov 25, 2015 01:01 PM

End of a nightmare?

By the Notebook on Nov 25, 2015 01:01 PM

High-stakes standardized tests are falling out of favor. From President Obama and Congress to School District leaders, we are finally hearing recognition of the unintended consequences of over-testing and overemphasizing test results.

Philadelphia schools have lived through 20 years of test-based accountability. At first, it involved rewards and some punishments for schools based on standardized test scores.

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