DUNMORE MIDDLE SCHOOL
2013 PENNSYLVANIA SYSTEM OF SCHOOL ASSESSMENT
GRADE 7 MATHEMATICS / READING
GRADE 8 MATHEMATICS / READING / WRITING / SCIENCE
March 6, 2013
It’s that time of year once again, when all 501 Pennsylvania school districts are assessed in the above subject areas. This will be the eighth year that students in both grade levels (7th and 8th) will take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA’s).
- 8th grade Writing – Mon. 3/11 and Tues. 3/12 - 7:50 – noon (approximately)
- 7th and 8th grade Math & Reading – Mon. 4/8 through Wed. 4/10 – 7:50 – noon (approximately)
- 8th grade Science – Mon. 4/23 and Tues. 4/24 7:50 – 10:15 (approximately)
PSSA testing will not interfere with our school start and dismissal times. All students will still attend their lunch during their usual times.
We ask you to ensure that students have as much rest as possible on the evenings prior to testing and that they have a substantial breakfast on the mornings of the test dates. Students who have breakfast in school will continue to have this opportunity on these test dates. The majority of testing will occur first thing in the morning and end at approximately noon. Please restrict the making of appointments to after this interval of time; it would be helpful and greatly appreciated.
Teachers have been preparing our students strategically and comprehensively for these
exams, and we approach these dates with a lot of confidence.
Your anticipated support and cooperation are greatly appreciated!
Pennsylvania Keystone Exams
What are the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in academic content. Beginning with the class of 2017, students must demonstrate proficiency on the Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams to graduate. Students will be offered multiple opportunities to take the Keystones throughout their high school careers.
Who will participate in the Keystone Exams?
Beginning in 2012-2013 the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams will replace the 11th grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in mathematics, reading, and science for purposes of satisfying No Child Left Behind (NCLB)/Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements. Therefore, all students in grade 11 must participate in the Algebra I, Literature, and Biology Keystone Exams. Additionally, students in any grade who are enrolled in a Keystone related course should participate.
When will the exams be offered?
The Keystone Exams will be administered three times each year—winter, spring, and summer. Specific administration dates will be published by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on the SAS website at www.pdesas.org .
Who decided what Keystone Exams should measure?
Groups of educators from across Pennsylvania chose the areas of knowledge on which the Keystone Exams are based. The groups included teachers, supervisors, curriculum directors, and college specialists. These groups also reviewed, edited, and approved exam questions.
What is assessed on the Keystone Exams?
Pennsylvania adopted the Common Core Standards, standards aligned with expectations for success in college and the workplace. The Keystones are designed to measure these standards.
How long is a Keystone Exam administration?
There is no time limit for a student to complete a Keystone Exam. Each Keystone Exam should take the typical student 2 to 3 hours to complete. There are two modules on each test, and each module (or Test Session) of the Keystone Exam should take 1 to 1.5 hours to complete. Districts may select to administer the entire Keystone Exam at once or do each module on separate, consecutive days.
What are the available formats for administering the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams are available in both online and paper/pencil formats. Districts will determine if online, paper/pencil, or both formats will be used locally. Makeup exams will also be administered in either online or paper/pencil format.
Will students have an opportunity to experience online testing before taking a Keystone Exam online?
Tutorials and online training programs have been developed for the Keystone Exams. The PA Online Assessment Student Tutorial uses pictures, motion, and sound to present visual and verbal descriptions of the properties and features of the PA Online Assessment system. Students are allowed to repeat the Student Tutorial as often as desired and needed. The Online Tools Training (OTT) provides an introductory experience using the PA online assessment software allowing students to observe and try out features of the PA online assessment software prior to the actual assessment. Within the OTT, students also have the opportunity to practice typing responses in a narrative format, graphing functions, and entering equations using an equation builder tool. The online exam also has a “Help” feature that is available to the student during the exam.
What types of questions are on the Keystone Exams?
The Keystone Exams will include multiple-choice questions and constructed-response, or open-ended, questions. For each Keystone Exam, approximately 60% to 75% of the total score will be from multiple-choice questions and 25% to 40% of the total score will be from constructed-response questions. The English Composition Keystone Exam will be an exception, with 20% of the total score from multiple-choice questions and 80% of the total score from constructed-response questions.
How are the written responses to constructed-response questions scored?
The written responses for constructed-response questions are scored by evaluators trained in applying a pre-determined scoring system. Scores are based on content only. Except for English Composition, spelling and punctuation are not included as part of the scoring process. Most constructed-response questions require students to show their work or explain their reasoning. These Keystone Exam questions will ask students to explain, analyze, describe, or compare. Some questions will also require students to perform calculations or create graphs, plots, or drawings.
How are the results reported?
Keystone Exam scores will be processed as quickly as possible and provided to the districts.
Two copies of the individual student report for all Keystone Exams will be sent to the school districts and charter schools. One copy should be sent home to parents/guardians; the other is kept by the school/district.
School-level reports will be used for curricular and planning purposes. School districts and charter schools may publish the results of Keystone Exams for each school. The state will also release school-by-school exam data.
May parents see the Keystone Exams?
Parents and guardians may review the Keystone Exams if they believe they may be in conflict with their religious beliefs by making arrangements with the School Test Coordinator once the exams arrive at the school. Confidentiality agreements must be signed, and no copies of the Keystone Exams or notes about exam questions will be permitted to leave the school.
If, after reviewing the Keystone Exams, parents or guardians do not want their child to participate in one or all of the exams due to a conflict with their religious beliefs, they may write to the school district superintendent or charter school CAO prior to the beginning of the exam(s) to request to excuse their child from the exam(s).
For additional information about
the Keystone Exams, visit the SAS
website at www.pdesas.org or
contact your school district.
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in various subjects. During the 2012-2013 school year the following Keystone Exams will be available: Algebra I, Literature and Biology. In future years, pending funding, additional Keystone Exams will be administered.
The Keystone Exams are one component of Pennsylvania’s proposed system of high school graduation requirements. Keystone Exams will help school districts guide students toward meeting state standards.
Please visit the Standards Aligned System (SAS portal) at: www.pdesas.org to create an account to learn more about Keystone Exams as well as reviewing much more information from the state level (PA Department of Education - PDE).
Our 10th grade students will be taking their Keystone Exams in Algebra I and Literature next week.
Our 11th grade students will be taking their Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology next week.
Our 8th grade Honors students will be taking their Keystone Exam in Algebra I only in May.
We ask that you encourage your student(s) to take these exams serious and to try to their best. That's all we can ask of them...is to try their best! Students should get plenty of rest the night before these exams and are strongly encouraged to eat breakfast the morning of testing and NOT to be absent from or late to school during the days of testing: 1/9/13 through 1/11/13. Obviously, we understand that special circumstances may arise where a student may be absent.
Lastly, please review the two posted announcements pertaining to next week's administration of the Keystone Exams in grades 10 and 11 beginning Wednesday, January 9th - Friday, January 11th.
Thank you for your Support!
December 17, 2012
I want to take this opportunity to provide you with some information about the district in light of the recent tragedy in Connecticut. The district has followed these events since they occurred and has been evaluating our own security procedures. We strive to maintain safe and secure schools each and every day. The security of our buildings is a primary concern of each building principal each day.
As a result of the situation in Connecticut:
- Administrators, faculty, and staff have been reminded to become more vigilant and aware of building security concerns.
- Local police have been asked to be more visible around all school buildings.
- Increase on-going and consistent collaboration among the School Safety Team, Student Resource Officer, Local Police and State Police and other stakeholders
- Increase the amount of Lockdown (practice, practice, practice).
- Understand that there is no perfect crisis management plan but to continue to review it each summer and school year with all stakeholders involved
- Revise and Articulate PLAN(S) accordingly so all are on the same page and have a clear understanding of procedures
- Believe that our MISSION is to have the best safety plan and Leadership possible with the resources we have available
The Board of Education, administration, faculty and staff take the responsibility of providing a safe and secure environment very seriously. I ask you to discuss school safety with your child/children. Indicate to them that if they notice anything strange in or around any school building to report it to a principal or staff member immediately.
I appreciate your support. With your assistance these proactive measures and awareness assist the district to continue to make Dunmore Schools a safe place for everyone.
Robert Galella, Principal
November 2, 2012
Dear 7 - 12 Parent(s)/Guardian(s):
Please be advised that beginning on Tuesday, November 13, 2012; we will be implementing our new 5-Day Schedule (on the reverse side of this letter) beginning with DAY 1. This new 5-Day Schedule does not change anyone’s schedule. The only change that occurs is instead of Monday through Friday; it will be Day 1 through Day 5.
For example, your student may have P.E. on Monday, health class on Tuesday, and biology lab on Wednesday. With the new schedule P.E. is now on Day 1, health is on Day 2, and biology lab is on Day 3. As you can see on the schedule, Day 1 will start on Tuesday.
5-Day Schedules are common across many school districts. One of the benefits is the flexibility it allows in the instruction of students in physical education, health, biology, chemistry, and physics classes. For instance, students who have a biology lab on Monday, which will be assessed via a Keystone Exam, miss their lab 26% of the time throughout the course of a school year with the traditional Monday through Friday schedule. This happens because nine Mondays are missed in the District Calendar, and these labs, consisting of science inquiry-based projects, can never be made up. Another example is the recent storm that closed our school for two days. If a student has a Monday gym class or lab, they will have missed 2 consecutive weeks of class after our Veteran’s day holiday. With the new schedule these interruptions to learning can be avoided.
Therefore, please refer to the reverse side of this letter to review our new 5-Day Schedule that will begin on Tuesday November 13, 2012. Now, whenever schools close due to weather, holidays, etc.; students will return following the Day they would have had on the day of the closing. For example, if school is closed on a Day 3, students will have Day 3 upon their return to school.
Please feel free to contact me at 346-2043 with any questions that you may have.
Thank you to our teachers and students who participated in this even if it didn't make the final cut of editing. Your support was greatly appreciated!
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THANKS FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT
Standards Aligned System
Standards Aligned System (SAS) is a comprehensive approach to support student achievement across the Commonwealth. You can learn more about this portal/site and its six elements that support the path to Student Achievement by visiting and/or creating a user account at www.pdesas.org
5 STUDY TIPS
1. LET YOUR KID TAKE CHARGE. If your child insists that listening to music helps him concentrate on his math homework, let him give it a shot. Having control over how you learn something boosts memory-enhancing brain activity, allowing you to remember it better, finds research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
2. MAKE IT PERSONAL. We tend to remember best what we identify with, so help your child find a way to make the information meaningful, says Nancy Irwin, a psychotherapist from Los Angeles. Is your child studying division? Encourage her to speak with someone who uses it in his job, like a baker who deals with different recipe quantities.
3. BREAK UP BIG TASKS. Instead of one long study session, have your child review his materials in a few short blocks of time leading up to the test. “Students will retain the most information by studying over several shorter sessions rather than cramming,” says Casey Crnich, executive director of Chicago’s Hyde Park Day School.
4. WRITE IT DOWN. Before a big exam, your child should put her concerns on paper. Anxious students earned higher test scores just by jotting down their fears prior to an exam, finds a recent University of Chicago study.
5. GIVE IT A REST! Kids should take a five-minute break for every half hour of studying, recommends Erin Floyd, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Atlanta. “Study breaks let kids relax and refocus their thoughts, which helps enhance focus, solidify memories, and boost productivity,” she says.
DON’T FORGET TO RELAX, REFOCUS, & RECHARGE!