An overview of students' opinions on the new Keystone exam schedule
Since September, many students have been dreading the unpleasant, yet imperative Keystone Exam. The Keystone Exam is a Pennsylvania standardized test that is broken into three subjects to assess a student’s performance in each. It is mandatory for a student to pass the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystones in order to graduate from high school, unless they are excused from testing by a parent/guardian.
Starting from the very first day of school, teachers begin warning their students about the importance of passing the Keystones that year. However, most of their students are reluctant to take the Keystones and do not see the importance of them quite like they do.
“I don’t think Keystones should be necessary to graduate because if we pass the classes for each subject, the Keystones are then redundant and a waste of my time. I believe they are not an accurate representation of how much I know in each of these subjects, so they should not be seen as so important,” said Caitlin Murray, sophomore. Murray has not yet taken her Literature Keystone this year, but she has taken her Algebra I and Biology exams in years past.
Preparing for the Keystones is very challenging because no one, not even teachers, know exactly what kinds of questions will be on the test, and some of the topics on them are not even covered in class that year. The open-ended responses also prove to be difficult because the Keystones do not look for creativity in the student’s writing. They only want the student to follow a specific format, which usually brings down the quality of their writing, making it redundant after a while.
“I don’t think we should need them to graduate because, in my opinion, you can’t really prepare for the Keystones. I think they should just be used to evaluate our placement,” said Sarah Sylvester, sophomore. Sylvester has completed all three of her Keystones already.
The actual Keystone test seems dreadful enough for most students, but this year Freedom High School created a new Keystone schedule, which has proven to be unpopular among students. In past years, students who had to take the Keystones came to school regular time and everyone who did not, came three hours later. The school ran on three hour delays for six days (two three-hour delays for each subject). Now, students who need to take the Keystones come for one full day of school and non- Keystone testers do not even have to show up for school that day.
“Six hours of Keystones in one day is too much and counterproductive. I think it will make students do worse on the Keystones than if they stuck to the normal Keystone schedule,” said Murray.
When I took the Literature Keystone this year, writing eight essays in one day and not being able to show my creative abilities in any of them was difficult and exhausting.
Students all around Freedom High School will have different opinions on the Keystone Exam, but no one can deny that a lot of students are becoming frustrated with them.
“I’m really hoping that passing the Keystones will no longer be a graduation requirement because that puts too much pressure on students and frustrates them more if they fail by just a few points,” said Murray.