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Pennsylvania Exit Exams Approved


The Kerfuffle in the Keystone State seems to be over. The Pennsylvania board of education approved the much-disputed exit exams yesterday.

The bickering about graduation tests in Pennsylvania has been going on for a while. In 2008, the state board approved a set of changes intended to close graduation loopholes and better gauge what students know. A big piece of that new approach was a set of end-of-course tests that would replace the state's high school-level test.

The piling-on began. Many groups saw the proposal as a threat to the "local option" by which students could graduate with a locally designed test. Lawmakers got royally ticked off when the education department went ahead with test development despite a legislative moratorium.

Finally a compromise emerged, and that is what the state board voted on yesterday. The newly approved regulations still are subject to a couple of layers of review, but snags appear unlikely.


I know the exit exam for Pennsylvania are in "core subject areas." I'm wondering if any state's are talking about the development of end of course assessments in the majority of high school disciplines (to include social studies, science, and even electives). As the Feds talk more and more about using multiple measures to evaluate teachers and even make decisions about pay, it is going to become more and more important to think about how, among other data points, we can use achievement data for shop, social studies and foreign language teachers. Perhaps selected states will use their Race to the Top money to design end of course assessments.

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