Eighth grade academics no longer take Algebra Keystone


Connor George

Math time! Eighth grade math teacher Anetta Conway teaches her fourth period math. They are preparing and making sure they know everything for the PSSA’s.

Destiny Montgomery , Reporter

As of the 2018-2019 school year, the Pennsylvania State Department of Education pushed eighth grade academic Algebra I Keystone Testing to the ninth grade year to make it easier for students.  

In previous years, eighth grade academic and honors students took the Algebra I Keystone test. If they failed, they took a semester long Algebra Intervention class in ninth grade and would retake the test in the middle of that school year.

“Instead of eighth grade academic taking the Algebra I class this year, they are technically taking PA Core Math 8,” assistant principal Jerry Koehle said.

According to Koehle, having academic students skip the Algebra Keystones will take pressure off of them. He added they already have to take math, ELA and science PSSA’s, and adding the Algebra Keystone is a lot to handle and cover.

“It is a proven fact that Algebra I is the most important math course, and sometimes students aren’t ready for it in eighth grade, so with that extra year of maturity, we find that students will be more successful and more understanding of the content,” Koehle said.

Eighth grader, Keria Mayhue, is an academic student who will not be taking the Algebra I Keystones until her ninth grade year.

“I think it is good that we will have more time to prepare and cover the material. I think taking it next year will be the best choice because we will be an older age, and we will be at a better maturity of understanding it,” Mayhue said.

“Not having the tests this year gives time this year and next year to prepare academics for two major tests [Algebra I and Biology],” Koehle said.

Eighth grade math teacher Annetta Conway is preparing her students for the PSSA’s, not having to worry about cramming two types of curricula into one year.

It is my experience that teaching one curriculum in eight months rather than two curriculums in nine months has reduced my stress level considerably.  I have more time to design lessons that are engaging and reach a variety of learning styles. The eighth grade students are learning the concepts in depth rather than simply being exposed to them,” Conway said.

Only honors eighth graders will proceed the way it used to be, by taking the test this year. If they fail, they take an Algebra Intervention class next year.

Academic eighth graders will proceed taking the three required PSSA tests, and they don’t have to worry about taking the Keystone. It spreads out to three tests this year (PSSA’s), and two next year (Keystones).

“They can concentrate on learning and understanding the skills and concepts that are on the eighth grade PSSA and not have to worry about taking two high risk tests in one year. Eighth grade students have a much more in depth understanding of the eighth grade curriculum that correlates directly to the PSSA test because they did not have to split their time learning material for both tests. I think this is a tremendous benefit to the eighth grade students,” Conway said.

“It takes pressure off of us students, and I think we are prepared for the PSSAs, and that next year will prepare us well for the Keystones, not having a lot on our backs,” Mayhue said.