Cash-starved schools but over $1B for testing?

by State Senator Andy Dinniman, Daily Local News, 9/27/16

While school funding is in crisis and property taxes continue to rise, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) since 2008 has signed contracts for more than $741 million for PSSA and Keystone Exam testing. All of this money went to one company, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), who received three contracts, two of which had no-bid extensions.

While a testing company is making big bucks, some of our schools do not even have the funds to purchase textbooks that contain the Common Core standards upon which the students are tested. Doesn’t PDE understand that it’s simply unconscionable to stamp failure on the backs of students who don’t even have access to the materials on which they are being tested?

The costs to school districts for testing and supervising the required Project Based Assessment (PBA) for those not passing the Keystone is conservatively estimated to be over 300 million dollars. This means between the state and school districts, Pennsylvania’s testing programs in the past eight years have cost the taxpayers almost $1.1 billion.

For years I worked in the legislature to change this testing obsession. Finally, Act 1 of 2016 was unanimously passed, suspending the use of Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement for two years….

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