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The Keystone Exam error: The larger lesson

With all the emphasis placed — and classroom time spent — on standardized testing in Pennsylvania, you’d think the state Education Department at least would ensure that the results are as useful as possible. Think again.

The department pulled 2016 data from its School Performance Profile website this month because of what it called a contractor error involving school-level Keystone Exam results. Those SPP scores went online Oct. 13, but state officials didn’t learn of the error until Oct. 18 and couldn’t tell school administrators when corrected data would be posted.

The department should have known much sooner — and must hold contractor SAS accountable.

But this contractor-error delay is just the tip of a ponderous educratic iceberg. The flawed data’s Oct. 13 posting occurred a week later than districts expected, according to Pittsburgh Public Schools’ director of research. And Kiski Area School District’s superintendent told the Trib that the annual fall release of SPP scores comes too late for administrators to use the data in summertime planning for the following school year.

Add district administrators not getting SPP results when they’d be most useful — contractor errors or not — to long-standing concerns about “teaching to the test,” and there are more reasons than ever to question the value of putting students and teachers through the Keystone Exam grind each year.


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