Keystone’s Set to be online


Kimberly Bennett

The days of hand-written standardized testing may be over for students at Bellwood-Antis.

Kimberly Bennett, Staff Writer

This year Bellwood-Antis staff and students are preparing for Keystone Exams to be administered online for the first time.

While some kids are excited for testing online, most teachers are anxious about the turnout of it, unsure of what it will be.

Mrs. Dawn Frank. the chairperson of the math department, said echoed those sentiments.

“I think apprehensive would be the best word¬† to describe how I am feeling,” she said. “I am so unsure about many things.”

According to a 2019 study in the Economics of Education Review titled “Is the pen mightier than the keyboard? The effect of online testing on measured student achievement,” students who took such tests online lagged behind the performance o their peers.

Biology teacher Ms. Denise Shimel feels taking the tests online could be detrimental to some students, especially those who technology  may fail them.

“Not everyone has a perfectly functioning iPad or keyboard,” she said.

English teacher Alyssa Cunningham said she was “anxious to find our more and help students prepare to use the online platform.”

Like Mrs. Cunningham, who teaches a class of juniors that will take the Keystone Lit exams, many of the teachers find an anxious outlook, but they also find somewhat of a positive to it. All three of B-A teachers said a benefit of the online test is paper free and safer for our environment.

The hope from all the teachers is that the tests will be graded faster and have faster results. This could be good for improving instruction.

High school principal Mr. Richard Schreier finds several advantages in online Keystones. It’s something B-A students may be ready for, he said.

“We offered a 1:1 iPad initiative and students have lived in that environment for 5+ years,” he said.

Beyond that, students at Bellwood-Antis have already figured out how to work iPads and overcome challenges. In 2020, thanks to the pandemic, all students were taking tests on iPads and continued to take them on iPads into the next couple of years.

The tech department is going to push out an app for the Keystones exams. The only way the students will gain access to the app is through updating it to the newest update.

As with a lot of teachers, Mr. Schreier is also looking forward to less paper use and less time consuming tasks. Mr. Schreier is also a fan of the delivery method of the test, which does allow for some student perks.

“During an exam, students can flag questions and get a review and re-evaluate all incomplete sections of the exam before the final submission,” Mr. Schreier said.

The Algebra 1, Literature, and Biology keystone are held in May. Algebra 1 will be held on May 17, Literature will be held on May 18, and Biology will be held on May 19.