Wednesday, December 12, 2007

PSSA's as a Grad Requirement

While the district is mulling over how to motivate students to take the PSSA’s seriously, there is much disagreement over whether or not to make PSSA proficiency a graduation requirement.

From what I’ve observed, most within district staff don’t believe it’s a good idea, but clearly some administrators see it as a quick way to get results even though almost everyone would prefer positive motivation rather than negative reinforcement.

There is tremendous public pressure to raise PSSA scores immediately, and that may drive the decision regarding the issue of proficiency as a graduation requirement.

22 comments:

shamrocks1321 said...

I don't think that it is good idea at all. Some children just do not perform well on standardized tests. If that is going to be some sort of graduation requirement then it may do more harm then good to those who may be extremely bright but just freeze while taking these kinds of tests. There has to be a better idea.

redskins101 said...

The answer to the question is simple. But first do the following exercise. Without doing a Google search, rate the following school districts in the order of their PSSA scores (high to low). HINT: It's easy, it has nothing to do with education.

Here is the list in alphabetical order.
Bensalem, Bristol, Centennial, Central Bucks, Council Rock, Morrisville, Neshaminy, New Hope-Solebury, Palisades, Pennridge, Pennsbury, Quakertown

Post your guess as a comment and I will post the results shortly.

TappedOut6360 said...

Don't know if I can guess them in order, but I'll say the higher scores belong to Centennial, CB, CR, New Hope, Pennsbury. At the low end are Bensalem, Bristol, Morrisville. Others are in the middle. How did I do Redskins 101?

Anonymous said...

There are other states that require test scores in order to graduate or get equivalency. Why would this be any different? How are we preparing our children for adult life by shielding them from responsibility?

MPMom0662 said...

Central Bucks
Pennsbury
Council Rock
Centennial
Pennridge
Palisades
Quakertown
New Hope Solebury
Neshaminy
Bensalem
Bristol
Morrisville
Am I close?

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that NCLB is an absolute joke. Once Bush is out, they'll get rid of NCLB and we can develop graduation requirements that really mean something.

tappedout6360 said...

Amen to the NCLB sentiments.

shamrocks1321 said...

Here is what I think

New Hope-Solebury
Palisades
Central Bucks
Council Rock
Centennial
Pennridge
Neshaminy
Pennsbury
Quakertown
Bensalem
Morrisville
Bristol

How did I do?

Too Early for a Test said...

Pennsbury, Council Rock and Central Bucks will be ahead of Neshaminy. Bensalem will be right behind Neshaminy.
Morrisville will be dead last and Bristol probably isn't far behind.
I don't know about the other districts but guess the are higher than Neshaminy.

shamrocks1321 said...

Anonymous,

YOu mentioned that other states use PSSA's as a graduation requirement. You also mentioned that we are shielding them from responsibility? I wonder if you could clarify that. We all work in the real world and how do standardized test determine how we really will do once we leave a school setting? People change colleges, careers etc. throughout their lives. How can one test be used to determine your life or if not taken, how are we shielding them?

Anonymous said...

I think NY State has test requirements for high school graduation (not PSSA's). I have heard other states have similar requirements. My point is that if we as taxpayers are to judge our school district's success on PSSA scores (NCLB is the law of the land, whether we like it or not), then I see no reason why students shouldn't be required to pass these tests. We cannot be afraid that some students don't do well on tests or can't take the pressure. Life is full of tests and pressures and you cannot hide from them. That is why I feel we are shielding our students too much.

shamrocks1321 said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for clarifying your answer for me. While I agree that life is full of pressures as well as challenges they still don't come in the form of a standardized test but that is the great thing about these forums, we are all able to give our opinions and hopefully we can assist the district in making a smart decision and not a hasty one because our children's future is the most important thing to all of us parent.

redskins101 said...

AND THE WINNER IS:

Before I list the order of the PSSA scores, here is the list of all the Bucks districts from high to low based on real estate prices
of the homes in the district.

New-Hope Solebury
Central Bucks
Council Rock
Quakertown
Palisades
Centennial
Pennsbury
Neshaminy
Bensalem
Morrisville
Bristol

Now swap New-Hope Solebury and Central Bucks and you have the PSSA score list. I told you it was easy!
But it is also very interesting.
This tells me that the low PSSA scores are not the fault of the administration, teachers or school board. The focus should be more on the parents and the social-economic problems that some of our students encounter.

DE said...

I think it is a great idea. Students need to be held accountable. Right now the attitude towards the PSSA from many students is that "it judges teachers and the school", not me. They just don't care about it. I believe the scores will definitely go up if it is a requirement for graduation.

LO in Langhorne said...

To DE,
Even though I do not want to make it mandatory, I cannot disagree with your opinion. If we make PSSA's a graduation requirement it will get many students to improve. But I would rather try some type of positive reinforcement. If we are going to put our students under added pressure, it should be for a test that really means something. The state should come up with its own requirements for graduation testing rather than using the PSSA's.

Feasterville Dad said...

1st of all the test is not a true test to see if the students were taught properly.2nd this test was meant to be a grade for the teachers not the student. The problem is that the students are tested in the current year in March or April. Meaning that if you’re in 5th grade you are taking a 5th grade test. The teachers spend the 1st half of the year teaching the items needed for the test usually jumping out of order and going so fast so they can get through it all that they really are not teaching anything because there is no time for the kids to digest the information. If this was meant to be a TRUE TEST to grade teachers and students shouldn’t they be tested with 4th grade material in 5th grade? That way you really know if the teachers did their job and that the student did theirs! WHY do force feed them on things that they weren't even to be taught yet?

JCHulmeville said...

I believe the requirement is a very good idea. The test is not a real indicator of student's ability unless it has some significance.
Neshaminy students tend to do well in elementary and middle school and then the scores drop off significantly in high school. I think this is because high school students are less likely to take a test seriously and try their best if they realize the test has no significance for them. It also means that the test is not a true indicator of students' learning and ability. If we know they are trying their best because passing is a requirement for graduation, the scores have credibility. Since the test is taken in the junior year, Neshaminy can create a program to help those students who did not pass to develop the skills and knowledge being tested before graduation. In this way the test can serve its true purpose which is to enable schools identify and help the students who truly need help.

redskins101 said...

It is not an educational issue, it is a problem based on social, psychological and economic problems. There is a type of student who will just fill out the test in 5 minutes and hand it in.
That really hurts the averages of the district.
More likely this student will be from Bristol, Morrisville, Bensalem or Neshaminy rather than Central Bucks, New Hope or Council Rock. Take the top 50 kids from each district and have them take the test. The rankings would be so close, the results could be in any order. The problem is not the Neshaminy educational system.

Junior Student said...

Having the PSSA as a graduation requirement is a joke. This is not a motivation technique. I do not need to get motivated to take a test. Knowing that I will not graduate if I do not score above a required grade will only make me and others more nervous. Similar to the nerves when taking the SAT, which makes students do worse. The PSSA shouldn't make you nervous, but just to test honestly what you have learned throughout school.

William O'Connor said...

To Junior Student: One citizen suggested using positive reinforcement such as passing PSSA = free trip to Dorney Park. A student commented that no student would want to be the only kid not to go, so he thought it was a good idea. What do you think?

junior student said...

Yes, I think that would be a good idea. Also, another solution brought up in the classroom was everyone who did not pass the PSSA would have to go into an in-service day at school to try to improve their PSSA score. All of the other students who passed would have the day off from school. I don't think there is one student in the high school who would want to sit in school studying while everyone else is having fun.

StoicCrying said...

I don't believe this is a good idea. Future Grad students need to already prepare for SATs, Colleges, Loans, Grants, and basically moving onto adulthood. I know many seniors and juniors that already decided they won't go to college because of so many tests in the final year and it overwhelms them. A requirement will just push them over the edge.