You're going to take an exam -- one with a long, official-sounding name like, oh, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
It's a grueling test, one you're going to have to study for long and hard.
Do well on it, and no one will care.
Perform poorly, though ... well, actually, that's OK, too.
Does this make sense?
Your answer doesn't matter, either.
This is just the way it is with the PSSA writing and science exams, which, unlike the reading and math sections, don't count toward No Child Left Behind requirements -- much less a student's grade.
The 2012 writing and science results were released recently, and, predictably, some York County school districts improved their scores and some did worse than in 2011.
Good to know, but then again -- so what?
Yes, a grasp of these subjects is necessary and can help a student perform better on the all-important reading and math sections of the PSSA.
Schools have to ensure students are learning science and mastering writing.
But isn't that what grades are for? The grades that teachers give students after they take a classroom tests on the subjects?
It makes no sense to bring that learning to a halt so teachers can "teach to the test" -- a test even students know doesn't mean a thing in the end.
The Keystone Exams, a series of end-of-course assessments, will replace the high school PSSA starting this year. Once fully implemented in the next few years, they will include a science and writing component that count toward making state standards.
Finally, those tests will have teeth. But only for high school juniors.
But what about the fourth- fifth-, eighth-graders who still will be required to take the PSSA writing and science tests?
If we want these students to take the science and writing exams seriously, the state Department of Education and schools districts need to take them seriously.
Maybe the feds don't care about the results.
But if the tests are worth giving in Pennsylvania, it's worth counting the results toward students' grades.