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Chester County Press

Pa. students will spend less time taking standardized tests

08/21/2017 02:02PM ● By Steven Hoffman

The state's Department of Education announced a plan last week to reduce the amount of classroom time that students spend taking standardized tests. The change to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams will reduce by about 20 percent the amount of time that students in grades three through eight spend on the testing. On Aug. 15, assistant superintendent Dr. Margaret Billings-Jones, shared the news with the school board. The changes go into effect for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has removed two sections of the exams—one in math and one in English and Language Arts—and additional questions from the science section have also been removed. With those portions of the exams taken out, that could eliminate up to two full testing days for students, according to a press release that was issued at the time of the announcement.

The report by Billings-Jones was part of a relatively short agenda for the Oxford School Board.

With the start of a new school year quickly approaching, the school board approved a series of personnel changes, including new hires and resignations for professional and non-professional positions.

The school board finalized the renewal agreement with the Chester County Intermediate Unit for the services that are provided through the Brandywine Virtual Academy for the upcoming school year.

The school board approved the student handbooks for Oxford Area High School, Penn's grove School, and the K-6 elementary schools for the 2017-2018 school year.

The district also established the admission prices for sports events for the upcoming school year. Student admission is $3 for a sports event, while adult admission is $5. A student season pass is $25, and the adult season pass is $35. A family season pass will be $60.

The school district's parent-teacher organization has issued a friendly challenge to the school board and the district administration to see which group can collect the most box tops for the Box Tops for Education Program. The Box Tops for Education program was started more than 20 years ago when General Mills offered money to support U.S. education based on the amount of box tops that were collected. Within a few years, more than 30,000 schools were participating in the program as it was an easy way to earn money to buy books, computers, playground equipment, or other school needs.

Through the years, many other companies joined the program, and now hundreds of products have the box tops. Schools across the U.S. have earned a total of $800 million by participating in the program. In Oxford, Christine Peabody, who has been the PTO president the last few years, has offered regular reminders that the community should be collecting the box tops to benefit Oxford schools.

The school board will meet again for a work session on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building. A regular meeting of the school board will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building.  

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