Keystone Test Preparations in Place
By Alex Diamond
Keystone test preparations have concluded for the current school year. The stage is now set for the high stakes tests in English, Math, and Science that are mandatory for all students who want to graduate in the class of 2019 or later.
Some aspects of the preparations for Keystones have proven controversial. One element that often causes disarray are the amounts of time that teachers must focus on test preparation. Junior Samantha Haas does not like this emphasis on the test. “My graduation year does not have to pass them to graduate, so it means nothing to us.” Junior John Rodriguez also did not agree with the focus on it, but because the information on the test is already integrated into the curriculum. “Extra time does not help except when you don’t understand something you know is going to be on the test.” Sophomore Cathryn Fitzsimmons felt that teachers should go into a review right before the test.
The policy that limits electronics to the computer (while testing) and a calculator had more supporters than detractors, to an extent. Both Haas and Rodriguez thought that the policy was good for the test itself, but felt that they should be allowed after the test, because it staves off boredom and there is no way to cheat if the teachers already have packets. Fitzsimmons was more resolutely supportive of the policy. “Using electronics unrelated to the subject material can only impair the results of the test”.
The subjects offered on the Keystones include English, Biology and Math. Math seemed to be the hardest this year, with two of the three saying that was the hardest. Haas said that Math was the hardest. “It’s confusing.” Fitzsimmons also agreed that Math was the hardest, but English was the longest section. Rodriguez said that Biology was the hardest but the difficulty didn’t vary much for him.
If students who are in the Class of 2019 or later do not pass a Keystone subject on the first try, they must take tutoring during some of their Falcon Periods and retake the tests that they failed in either the winter or the spring of the next school year to be able to graduated. Students who have failed multiple times without significant improvement can also meet the requirement by completing a long-term project on the subject or by achieving select I.E.P. goals, provided they currently have or can qualify for an I.E.P. Fitzsimmons for one says that it’s a good idea, but there could be better ways of implementing it. “It’s a good way of reassuring the lessons got through to the students, but I’m not sure it’s the best way.”