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As of 2014, 100 percent of public school students are required to attain proficiency in math and reading as demonstrated in standardized testing like that of the Pennsylvania School System Assessment exams (PSSAs). This originated with a provision contained in the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, signed into law in 2002. Since its inception, education officials nationwide have continuously voiced opposition to NCLB and derided the 100 percent proficiency marker as merely aspirational and entirely improbable. This discourse has recently served as the impetus for reform of the legislation enacted through the Obama administration's creation of a waiver program that would grant states exemptions from the benchmark.
Educators and administrators like St. Marys Area School District Superintendent Ann Kearney have, with a degree of trepidation, set about meeting that goal as mandated by the legislation through targeted preparation for the PSSA exams, which will be administered this month.
"I think it's a pretty lofty goal, but I think that all teachers should go into the classroom with high expectations for all children," Kearney said.