Editorial: We get it, Keystones are no fun ... do your best anyway

Next week, students will return from the cherished holiday break … and immediately embark on the annual state standardized tests, the Keystone Exams. Billed as a capstone graduation requirement, the exams are designed to be taken at the conclusion of courses in Literature, Algebra, and Biology. At L-S, this usually translates to students taking them after World Literature, Algebra I, and Biology.

Beginning for students in the class of 2017, scoring “proficient” or “advanced” on all three is a requirement to graduate. Although there has been movement recently in the PA General Assembly to delay that requirement, it would also take a school board action for that to be removed as an L-S graduation requirement.

All of this is to say, you will not graduate if you do not pass the Keystones. If you do not pass the Keystones, you will be placed in remediation during RTII, and will have to retake them (or a similar “local assessment”) down the road.

We get it. Keystones are no fun. It’s a really horrible way to be welcomed back from Christmas break. But unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do about it, so do your best to have to take them only once.

Of course, if personal motivation is not enough to bring forth your best effort, the reputation of the school is at stake too. Consider that the primary reason L-S’s score in the PA Performance Profiles dropped so significantly is that we did not improve from previous years’ scores, failing to close the “achievement gap”, meaning that fewer students scored proficient or advanced last year than did in the “base year”. (The fact that the metric by which schools are judged changed is beyond our control -- what you can do is do your best.)

Even though 89% of students passed the Literature exam last year, that does not constitute improvement -- it takes 100% effort and investment from everyone involved to get the kind of scores that will demonstrate improvement for the school as a whole. That includes you.

So whatever it takes to get you to give your best effort on the Keystone exams next week, make it happen. There’s only so much drilling and encouragement your teachers can give; ultimately it’s your future that hinges on the results of this exam. Get enough sleep, eat breakfast, and do your best. No one succeeds when you fail; everyone succeeds when you succeed. Be excellent.

This opinion piece represents the official position of the LSNews.org editorial board, but does not constitute an official opinion of the Lampeter-Strasburg School District, its administration, or the advisor of LSNews.org. This piece's lead author was editor-in-chief Benjamin Pontz, and was written with limited input from English department staff. Questions or concerns can be directed to lspioneernews@gmail.com.


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