Carol Heinsdorf – School Reform Commission – September 17, 2015

Carol Heinsdorf - SRC testimony - 9-17-15

Parental concerns expressed to and compiled by Alison McDowell and presented to the SRC by Carol Heinsdorf:

SRC, Dr. Hite:

I am Carol Heinsdorf.

Regarding the Keystone Exams and the Class of 2017

Because a moratorium on using the Keystone Exams has not yet been passed, students who are enrolled as juniors will be required to pass the Algebra, English, and Biology Keystones in order to receive a diploma. In many high schools, passing rates, especially for biology, are well under ten percent. Given that the Keystones are the ultimate high-stakes test, here are a few questions of concern to parents that deserve the courtesy of a reply from the SRC.

  1. Based on the results of this spring’s Keystone Exams, what percentage of the class of 2017 in non-charter Philadelphia high schools have successfully passed all three required exams and are on track to graduate on time?
  1. What percentage of students in Philadelphia charter high schools has passed all three?
  1. How many students in non-charter high schools need remediation in all three subjects?  Two subjects? One subject?
  1. What is the budget line item for remediation of these students for the 2015-2016 school year? How much of that is allocated for staffing? Print material? Technology? Software?
  1. Do Philadelphia’s high school students have equal access to supports they need to pass these exams (i.e. tutoring, practice tests, text books, etc.)?  If not, why not? Who decides what level of support is provided in a given school?
  1. Is remediation taking place during school hours? If so, how does that affect the student’s ability to enroll in other courses they need in order to graduate on time and have a well-rounded education?
  1. Will the Philadelphia School District offer the Project Based Assessment this year?
  1. When will students be able to start the PBA? Will they be able to take more than one at a time if needed?
  1. Has the District conducted a technology audit to determine if they have the capacity to offer the PBA in a timely fashion to all members of the class of 2017 that need to complete them? If so, what were the findings? If not, is such an audit planned?
  1. How are parents notified about the status of their children with respect to the Keystone Exam? Has there been formal District correspondence mailed directly home alerting parents that their child’s ability to graduate is at risk?

Before leaving the lectern, may I gently point out that only one of the four apostrophes on the speakers’ listing is used properly? Another is missing. Proofreading is important.