Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Pennsylvania Department of Education says two thirds of the state’s 11th graders failed a new standardized science test. The state began requiring the test in 2008 for 4th, 8th and 11th graders along with math, reading and writing tests. The report released this week shows 81.5% of 4th graders scored at grade level, 52.7% of 8th graders cleared the bar and 35.7% of 11th graders performed at grade level. The majority of 11th graders scored below grade level in 85% of the state’s school districts. Department spokesperson Michael Race says those 11th graders are now seniors and may well be getting a diploma that says they are equipped to meet the demands of the post high school world and that may not be true. Race says this puts the state at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy that is putting more of a premium on science-based skills every day. It is not unusual for high schools to score lower on standardized tests than younger students but Race says this is a much bigger drop than is seen in other subjects. He defends the test saying he thinks it is valid and says it shows there is a need for state administered graduation proficiency tests for all high school diploma candidates. The PA Education Department has been pushing for such tests for some time now but has been met by resistance at the local level.