A mandatory test will not solve the problem of failing schools

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As a Pittsburgh native moved to Drexel University in Philadelphia, I have arguably seen the broadest range of schools possible. There is no question that there is inequality — especially comparing Pittsburgh suburban schools to Philadelphia inner-city schools. Responding to “State Panel Approves New Education Standards” (Nov. 22): Is passing a new mandatory standardized test really a win, or is it more accurately a loss?

Pennsylvania is forcing public schools to administer a new standardized test that requires significant funding (between $700 to $1,000 annually per student, according to the American Federation of Teachers). Perhaps this is a minor request to some successful schools, but not to dropout factories — including a staggering 24 Philadelphia schools that were closed this past June.

Do these schools really need another test only to tell them how poorly their students are performing, forcing them to plunder through their couch cushions scraping together the required funds that could instead be used for potential field trips and technology to increase both cultural and social capital of their students?

Perhaps as a state we should tackle individually improving our failing schools, rather than administer a new standardized test that will simply increase anxiety in students and shatter the hope for failing public schools to be revived.

At first glance, it appears that this test might force the dropout factories to essentially step up to the plate, but students are given the option of doing a project if they fail the exam twice. By having this project alternative, we as a state are accepting that some students do not meet the requirements that we defined for them.

Although a very difficult systematic problem to tackle, education is at the core of our country’s future and requires more than simply an additional standardized test to improve.


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