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


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



keystone exams


You might also like


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    09/07/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/09/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Warm Season Grass Walk

    09/10/2015
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    By creating a yard with vegetation that offers food and cover, you can create a refuge for severa...


  • Little Music Makers

    09/10/2015
    11:00AM — 11:30AM

    Every Thursday at the USTC, come Jam Out with… Little Music Makers …a mommy and me music class ...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    09/10/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • 64th Brandywine Open House and Kickoff

    09/10/2015
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    The 64th Brandywine Scouts of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA) will hold their annual ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Steamin’ Day at Auburn Heights

    09/06/2015
    12:30PM — 04:30PM

    Join the Marshall Steam Museum for Steamin' Day, a fun-filled day celebrating local history and l...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    09/06/2015
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

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


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    09/07/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Bird Walks At Middle Run

    09/08/2015
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Free! Every Autumn, more than 30 species of warblers pass through this county park and birders ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/09/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Warm Season Grass Walk

    09/10/2015
    09:00AM — 12:00PM

    By creating a yard with vegetation that offers food and cover, you can create a refuge for severa...


  • Little Music Makers

    09/10/2015
    11:00AM — 11:30AM

    Every Thursday at the USTC, come Jam Out with… Little Music Makers …a mommy and me music class ...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    09/10/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • 64th Brandywine Open House and Kickoff

    09/10/2015
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    The 64th Brandywine Scouts of the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA) will hold their annual ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Glen Willow Combined Driving Event

    09/11/2015
    08:00AM — 05:00PM

    Come enjoy the excitement, spectacle and thrills of carriage driving at the Glen Willow Combined ...


  • Parents Night Out: Marsh Monarchs

    09/11/2015
    06:30PM — 08:30AM

    Parent's Night Out: Set mom and dad loose to have dinner along Wilmington's Riverfront while you ...


  • Parents Night Out: Marsh Monarchs

    09/11/2015
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Parent's Night Out: Set mom and dad loose to have dinner along Wilmington's Riverfront while you ...


  • Mysterious Moths

    09/11/2015
    08:15PM — 10:00PM

    Join insect expert, Alyssa Molin-Graves, and TLC to explore the interesting and mysterious lives ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Monarchs And More

    09/12/2015
    09:30AM — 11:00AM

    The amazing Monarch and other butterflies are busy in the meadow! With net in hand, search for th...


  • Monarchs And More

    09/12/2015
    09:30AM — 11:00AM

    The amazing Monarch and other butterflies are busy in the meadow! With net in hand, search for ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Second Saturdays

    09/12/2015
    10:00AM — 04:00PM

    Join us on the Second Saturday of each month for special programming in our native plant gardens....


  • Secret Gardens of West Chester

    09/12/2015
    10:00AM — 03:00PM

    Now in its eleventh year, Barclay Friends is hosting an exclusive walking tour of 14+ private gar...


  • Trees of Newlin Nature Walk

    09/12/2015
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Discover the unique trees of Newlin on this walk that explores big trees, old trees, rare trees, ...


  • Mattress Sale Fundraiser

    09/12/2015
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    High Quality Mattresses at great prices and for a great cause!


  • Explore a loose and contemporary approach to Spontaneous Plein Air Painting. Workshop with Georga...


  • Food Truck Festival

    09/12/2015
    12:00PM — 05:00PM

    Calling all Foodies!!! Join us on Saturday, September 12th from 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. for a Food...


  • Victory for the Headwaters

    09/12/2015
    12:00PM — 08:00PM

    Victory Brewing Company (Victory) will host Victory for the Headwaters, a daylong celebration and...


  • Hootenanny Hoedown

    09/12/2015
    05:30PM

    Our 4th annual Hootenanny features a fantastic list of conservation minded partiers, delicious fo...


  • Sweet Sweet Music

    09/12/2015
    07:00PM

    An Evening of Fabulous Entertainment and Sweet Indulgence in a Landmark Venue to Benefit Chester ...


  • Milburn Orchards Grandparents Weekend Festival

    09/12/2015
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Grandparents get in FREE when accompanied by their grandchildren! Fall Festivals include unlimit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    09/13/2015
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

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


  • Milburn Orchards Grandparents Weekend Festival

    09/13/2015
    10:00AM — 05:00PM

    Grandparents get in FREE when accompanied by their grandchildren! Fall Festivals include unlimit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Join us for a golf outing at Broad Run Golfer's Club. Event proceeds help to prevent and end fam...


  • Ready to Read

    09/14/2015
    10:30AM — 11:00PM

    Join our storyteller for book readings, songs, rhymes and crafts. From Monday, September 14 - Mo...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/14/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • Meet & Greet Dharma

    09/14/2015
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Meet Dharma, a sweet German Shepard that is super smart! All are invited to meet her (without ap...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    09/14/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Bird Walks At Middle Run

    09/15/2015
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Free! Every Autumn, more than 30 species of warblers pass through this county park and birders ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/15/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • Meet & Greet Lizzy

    09/15/2015
    05:00PM — 06:00PM

    Meet Lizzy, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi show dog champion! She is affectionate, smart and works at th...


  • Kids Book Club

    09/15/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Read or listen to a book of your choice and join us to talk about it with the group. Bring a fri...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/16/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • Where Good Sleep Begins Workshop

    09/16/2015
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Banish Bedtime & Naptime Battles with The Sleep Lady's Gentle Method. Every parent knows getti...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Little Music Makers

    09/17/2015
    11:00AM — 11:30AM

    Every Thursday at the USTC, come Jam Out with… Little Music Makers …a mommy and me music class ...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    09/17/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Teen Book Club

    09/17/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Read or listen to a book of your choice and join us to talk about it with the group. Bring a fri...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Eye Spy In The Forest

    09/18/2015
    09:30AM — 11:00AM

    Let’s play Eye Spy in the forest! Nests, toads, salamanders, mushrooms, leaf piles …what will w...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Thresholds of Chester County Seeks Volunteers

    09/19/2015
    08:30AM — 04:00PM

    Thresholds of Chester County is a nonprofit organization that teaches decision making tactics to ...


  • Walk for Life

    09/19/2015
    09:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us for a day at the park! Enjoy a 2.5 mile walk through the lovely Anson B. Nixon park in Ke...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Free! Monarch Migration Celebration

    09/19/2015
    12:00PM — 04:00PM

    Celebrate one of nature's wonders…the great Monarch butterfly migration! Encounter live butterf...


  • Farm to Fork

    09/19/2015
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    This year’s Farm to Fork highlights the abundance of the season while honoring the important role...


  • Share a piece of Johnny Appleseed's Birthday cake, then pose and take pictures with the birthday ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    09/20/2015
    01:00PM — 04:00PM

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


  • Catch a ride on Coverdale’s hay wagon for a fun fall hayride through the preserve. Hop off at a...


  • Butterflies At Bucktoe

    09/20/2015
    02:00PM — 04:00PM

    Explore the beautifuln Bucktoe Creek Preserve in search of Monarchs, Swallowtails, and Fritillari...


  • Come join Lee Peterson, author of “Peterson’s Field Guide to Wild Edible Plants of Eastern/Centra...


  • Share a piece of Johnny Appleseed's Birthday cake, then pose and take pictures with the birthday ...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Ready to Read

    09/21/2015
    10:30AM — 11:00PM

    Join our storyteller for book readings, songs, rhymes and crafts. From Monday, September 14 - Mo...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/21/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    09/21/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Bird Walks At Middle Run

    09/22/2015
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Free! Every Autumn, more than 30 species of warblers pass through this county park and birders ...


  • Backyard Explorers

    09/22/2015
    10:30AM

    Tuesday, September 22 at 10:30 AM, Ages 3 – 5, registration required. There’s so much to discove...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/22/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Green By Nature Preschool: Coolest Creatures

    09/23/2015
    09:30AM — 11:00AM

    They can climb walls, lift 500 times their own weight, fly thousands of miles - even though the...


  • Tail Waggin' Tutors

    09/23/2015
    04:30PM — 06:00PM

    This relaxed animal friendly atmosphere allows students to practice the skill of reading. With c...


  • Autumn Equinox Hike & Campfire

    09/23/2015
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Welcome the coming of autumn! We will head to the Hawk Watch to scan the skies for soaring rapt...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Little Music Makers

    09/24/2015
    11:00AM — 11:30AM

    Every Thursday at the USTC, come Jam Out with… Little Music Makers …a mommy and me music class ...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    09/24/2015
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • This is a great time to make sure that the students in your house have the most important school ...


  • Moonlit Stream Stroll

    09/25/2015
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Adults it's your turn to stroll along the White Clay Creek with Director Bern Sweeney Ph.D., as y...


Chester County High School Sports