Rapp Commends Efforts to End Talk of Mandatory Graduation Tests
12/19/2008
In an effort to stop persistent calls for compulsory high school graduation exams, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Forest/McKean) is commending House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York) for his leadership on this issue and lending her voice to the growing chorus of opponents.
 
 If adopted, all Pennsylvania high school students would be required to pass a test demonstrating their proficiency in English, math, science and social studies in order to receive their diplomas.
 
“Once again, officials are calling for new mandatory graduation tests in an effort to gauge students’ competency before leaving high school,” Rapp said. “Though I certainly agree that our students must have the knowledge and skills required to succeed in an increasingly complex and global economy, the fact remains that the tests are redundant, unnecessary and too costly.”
 
The state budget deficit has been estimated by the Rendell Administration to grow to $1.6 billion by the end of year, prompting officials to take emergency action to cut costs throughout state government. Despite the large deficit, Pennsylvania Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak has recently gone on record to support the Graduation Competency Assessments, which will cost approximately $50 million just to develop. 
 
“Just to design the new test, we’re talking about a lot of money,” Rapp added. “When you add to that the cost to implement and administer the new test, the end result amounts to an unfunded mandate and an eventual increase in local school property taxes. If our goal is to ensure that students are graduating with a better-than-remedial understanding of the subject matter, let’s devote our resources to properly trained specialists. That way we can begin remediation in elementary school where it stands a genuine chance of making a meaningful difference.”
 
Additionally, Pennsylvania already requires all of its students to take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test, which has been concluded by the State Board of Education to be a “valid measure of student achievement.” When added to the numerous other standardized tests that are regularly employed in the state, many individuals become concerned that schools are irresponsibly “teaching the test” instead of the material.
 
“Education issues promise to be contentious going into a difficult budget year and I cannot begin to imagine why we would be pursuing this in the face of proposals to level-fund or cut funding for real programs that benefit students,” Rapp said. “Rural schools, like the ones that are educating our children here in the 65th Legislative District, drew the short straw in funding last year.  I will continue fighting for our students and for equitable funding in our area’s school districts.”
 
Rep. Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(814) 723-5203
(717) 787-1367
www.RepRapp.com
Contact: Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979
www.pahousegop.com