Skip to main content

Keystone Exams take away local control of education

07/16/2014 08:26PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Opinion


Letter to the Editor:

This September will mark the first year the Keystone Exams will be used as the deciding factor for whether or not students will graduate from Pennsylvania’s public high schools.  

September will also mark the five-year anniversary of House Resolution 456, the bi-partisan legislation that urged Gov. Ed Rendell to cease all funding and implementation of high school graduation requirements.  I was a co-sponsor of this legislation, along with 80 percent of my colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Pennsylvania is home to 500 school districts and approximately 1.8 million students.  Each child that is enrolled in one of these school districts is different than the next child. They learn differently, they face different challenges, they excel in different areas, and they test differently.  They are the 1.8 million reasons as to why the one-size-fits-all approach to education is wrong.  

I believe we should have standards for our schools and all stakeholders should be held accountable to these standards.  However, I believe the best judges of a student’s progress should be those who know the student best; parents, teachers, school administrators and school boards. No Child Left Behind was wrong because it took the focus off the individual student and placed it on testing. The Keystone Exams takes this one step further.  Rather than targeting the school for low test scores, it targets and penalizes the child.

The Keystone Exams were first introduced as the Graduation Competency Assessments (GCA) on Jan. 2, 2008.  The Senate and House delivered an overwhelming, bi-partisan response of opposition by placing a moratorium on the Rendell Administration with the passage of Act 61 of July 9, 2008, Section 117, which specifically prohibited the promulgation, approval, or proposal of “a regulation to change or establish high school graduation requirements.”  However, the Department of Education ignored this moratorium and issued a solicitation request to begin the development of GCAs. 

Republican leadership in the House and Senate continued to urge the governor to cease implementation, but it fell on deaf ears as the GCA morphed into the Keystone Exams and a contract for more than $200 million was signed with Data Recognition Corp.  

On Sept. 30, 2009, the State Board of Education took a vote to approve high school graduation requirements.  The majority and minority chairmen of the House and Senate Education Committees sit on the State Board of Education.  Rep. Paul Clymer, Republican Chairman for the House Education Committee, was the only legislator to vote no. 

As federal and state government assume more control of education, local control diminishes.  The personal face behind these tests fades away as these children become numbers.  We are presented with data to debate over why some districts are reporting more progress than others.  We do not know the personal story of each child behind the data. This is the exact reason we have school boards.  Out of Pennsylvania’s 500 school boards, fewer than 20 expressed support for the Keystone Exams.  

Five years ago, the General Assembly was denied the opportunity to vote on the Keystone Exams and now we are at a critical turning point for education in Pennsylvania.  This September our children will be equipped with a No. 2 pencil and a bubble sheet as their future weighs in the balance instead of with the local school district, where it belongs.


State Representative Stephen E. Barrar

160th District



keystone exams


You might also like


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/02/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/02/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/03/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Zen Group Startup

    09/03/2014
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Find out for yourself why people have respected Zen for thousands of years. One hour introductio...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/03/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/04/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/04/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/05/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • SCCCC Business & Family Friendly Event

    09/05/2014
    04:00pm — 08:00pm

    Please visit www.scccc.com for more information.


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • "Trees" Art Exhibit and Reception

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm — 09:00pm

    Join us for the First Friday Art Stroll in Kennett Square, September 5th, 6-9 pm, watch the Mushr...


  • MUSHROOM FESTIVAL

    09/05/2014
    06:00pm

    For 28 years the Festival stretches more than half a mile and features culinary events, growing e...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/05/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/06/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/06/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/07/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Grandparents Day

    09/07/2014
    10:00am — 05:30pm

    Grandmothers, bubbies*, and nanas! Grandfathers, zadies*, and pops! Grab your grandkids for a day...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    09/07/2014
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/07/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/08/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Affordable Pet Vaccine Clinic

    09/08/2014
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    AFFORDABLE PET VACCINE CLINIC Low cost vet services for cats & dogs- free physical exam with v...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/08/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/02/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/02/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/03/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Zen Group Startup

    09/03/2014
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Find out for yourself why people have respected Zen for thousands of years. One hour introductio...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/03/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/04/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


  • Kennett Flash schedule

    09/04/2014
    08:00pm

    The following acts are scheduled to perform at the Kennett Flash (101 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Squ...


  • Antique Appraisal Fair

    09/05/2014
    09:00am — 02:00pm

    We will have appraisers at the event to appraise your antique or vintage items Proceeds from thi...


Chester County High School Sports