After years of discussion, Pennsylvania’s Keystone Exam plan is undergoing major changes.
Gov. Tom Corbett proposed several important changes to the Keystone Exams in his budget proposal in February. According to Richard Gusick, the school district’s director of curriculum, these changes will involve cutting most of the exams.
“The original plan would have eventually put in place ten Keystone Exams. The governor has recommended reducing that to three, and that would be Algebra I, Biology and Literature,” Gusick said.
These changes would involve the state government eliminating the planned World History Keystone Exam. Though recent changes to the social studies curriculum were influenced by the exam, Gusick said that the removal of the test will not warrant another change in Conestoga’s curriculum.
World History teacher David Zimmerman agrees that the changes to the social studies curriculum are beneficial, with or without the Keystone Exam.
“The original purpose for the realignment of our curriculum is not there anymore,” Zimmerman said. However, “it had literally been more than 20 years in the high school since any changes had been made to the required social studies curriculum. I think it is good sometimes to shake it up and get a fresh look at everything.”
Freshman Robert Tang said he has enjoyed the World History course, regardless of whether it has a Keystone Exam. Tang said he did not like the idea of the Keystone Exams from the start, and that decreasing the number of exams is a good idea.
“We are already saturated with standardized tests, so it would be pointless to have more,” Tang said.
Freshman Liudas Panavas also believes that the original plan put too much weight on the exams within the overall course grade.
“It would [be unfair] because if I work really hard in all my other classes and then messed up on the Keystone Exam, all my grades would be bad,” Panavas said.
The new changes will also involve delaying the Keystone program for two years, which means current freshmen at Conestoga will not have to take any Keystone Exams. According to Gusick, none of the recent changes are official yet.
“We will have to monitor whether the legislature will pay for the Keystone Exam, and whether or not the governor is able to get the regulations changed that he will need to change in order to have the plan happen the way he announced it,” Gusick said.