EDUCATION

G-A students come out of the gate strongly on Keystones

JOYCE F. NOWELL, Echo Pilot

Taking a new test is always a source of trepidation, but Greencastle-Antrim High School students have passed the first round of a new state assessment with flying colors.

Juniors, sophomores and freshmen took the first round of the new Keystone Exams required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in December and the results are making administrators smile.

“The Keystone Exams for the December block have come back and we’re very proud of those,” said Dr. C. Greg Hoover, district superintendent.

“We’re very proud of the students and teachers at the high school for doing an awesome job in preparation,” said Ed Rife, high school principal.

“It was an overwhelming test, but I’m very happy to report that in all three areas, algebra, literature and biology, we are above the state average. That’s awesome news.”

The Keystone Exams are aimed at evaluating knowledge in specific courses and recently replaced the PSSA for high school students.

The PSSA was a generalized test in math, reading, writing and science.

Under the state’s Keystone Exams scale score ranges, 1,500 and above is proficient to advanced. Students are tested in three areas: Algebra I, Biology and Literature.

Rife reported the G-A results, each ahead of the state average, as follows:

In Algebra I, G-A had 62.2 percent of the students scoring at proficient or advanced, while the state average was at 54 percent.

In Biology, G-A had 43.6 percent of the students scoring at proficient or advanced, while the state average was at 41.5 percent.

In Literature, G-A had 77.5 percent of the students scoring at proficient or advanced, while the state average was at 66.8 percent.

Rife said, “We’re pretty pleased at this point. We know we still have work to do and we’re on that to make it happen. But we are happy with the initial results.”

Rife added that he is especially ecstatic with the Literature scores.

In the future the Keystone will be given as an end-of-course assessment. In this initial round of the testing, some students had taken class in the subject area sometimes several years in the past.

“As we move forward we’ll be testing the students while they are in the courses,” said Rife.

“These numbers should get better as we go on because we’ll just be testing the kids in those courses. Some of the juniors were taking an assessment of a course they had two or three years ago. To consider that in those numbers too, we’re pretty ecstatic.”

Students were offered extra help in preparation for the assessments, especially in areas where they had not had the subject area for some time, and remediation will follow for those who need it to be assessed again. The Keystones are one component of Pennsylvania’s new system of high school graduation requirements.

“Those scores will just keep going up,” Hoover noted.

“The system in place for remediation is well thought out. The preparation done to help students do well was well thought out. We’re real excited about that.”

The second round of Keystones will be given in mid- to late-May with results announced in June or July.

Rife said, “We’re working now to come up with an enrichment plan for this group of juniors to be able to take it again in May, and for the freshmen and sophomores to take it next year.”