Frustration grows with the announcement of keystones

Frustration grows with the announcement of keystones

Julia Barth, Campus Life Editor

Neshaminy just recently released the schedule for the rest of the year, and many were surprised, and maybe happy, to see that there are 6 half days in May, beginning May 17th and ending on May 25th. The reason for these half days is the state-mandated PA keystones. There are mixed reactions to this inclusion, some happy for the half days, others furious to have to take one or more state standardized tests. 

The Biology Keystones start the process off on May 17, and 19th followed by Algebra 1 on May 20, and 21st. Finally, the English Keystones end the testing on May 24 and 25. The Keystones are annual assessments at the end of the year to assess the knowledge and success of students. These are normally required to graduate, however since the 2020 Keystones were canceled due to Covid-19, the requirements have changed. 

Any student taking Biology and/or Algebra 1 this year is required to take the corresponding Keystones this year regardless of their grade, and every 10th grader in English Literature is required to take that Keystone this year. However, current 11th graders who didn’t take the English ones last year aren’t required to take them since it is a 10th grade based test, and any student who took Algebra or Biology last year will not be required to take them this year, as long as they passed the class. These will not be held against them at graduation.

Of course, kids (and teachers for that matter) are excited to have 6 whole half days, however many are upset at the principles they surround. This school year was far from normal, and at home/half in half at-home learning is certainly not easy, and many worry these exams are too much and too difficult after a year like this. Also, the school was informed about Keystones until around the end of March, only around 2 months to study and prepare. Students feel there is an unfair disadvantage to these exams this year, and fear of failure is on the rise. Teachers are also angered as they have to rush to finish their curriculum to have time to review. Similarly, the issue of grad-lab concerns many. Students and teachers feel underprepared for these exams, and many are starting to think about (and come to terms with) what happens if they fail. If you do not pass a Keystone exam, you are required to take a grad-lab course that reviews all the material before you retake the exam. Many are questioning if there will be enough rooms and teachers for the grad-lab course if a large number of students do not pass.

The argument over state standardized tests is already boiling, and requiring kids to take one (sometimes more), two-day, state-mandated standardized tests after not nearly a normal year of learning is most definitely angering thousands. Anxiety and fear are on the rise as students and teachers prepare for the exam in such little time. Many question whether or not PA will require these exams to graduate this year, and only time will tell.