The Pennsylvania's System of School
Assessment test (PSSA) is administered to determine whether standards
set by the government are being met by students in Pennsylvania
classrooms. Read on to learn more.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, public schools in every state are
subject to governmental scrutiny. As a result, most states make
extensive use of standardized testing to evaluate the progress of
students, teachers, and schools. Pennsylvania has adopted academic
standards for reading, speaking and listening, writing, and mathematics
in order to identify what students should know and accomplish at each
grade level. School districts must design curriculums and instructions
to prepare students to meet or exceed these standards.
Pennsylvania's System of School Assessment test (PSSA) determines
whether the government-mandated standards are being met. Based on the
PSSA results, state officials can evaluate the progress of Pennsylvania
students, as well as the extent to which school programs are enabling
students to achieve academic proficiency. Individual student scores are
provided only to the schools so they can be used to help teachers
identify students in need of additional help.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires all schools to make what is
known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). AYP is supposed to ensure that
all students have the necessary reading and math skills to prepare them
for the future. All students are required to reach the at least the
Proficient level in Reading or Language Arts and in Mathematics by the
year 2014. AYP requirements measure whether schools or districts are
making sufficient progress towards ths goal of 100% proficiency.
The test scores of the students taking the PSSA can factor heavily
into the AYP status of a given school. Good scores are obviously very
important. Since reading and math are the only two tests that count
towards a school's Adequate Yearly Progress status, every Pennsylvania
student in grades 3-8 and in grade 11 is assessed in both subjects.
Students in 5th, 8th and 11th grades are also assessed in writing, while
students in 4th, 8th and 11th are assessed in science in addition to
the math and reading assessments.
The math and reading tests are currently administered during March
20-31 testing window. It is left to the schools' discretion to decide
which days to test. The writing test is given during the window of
February 13-24. Reading and math tests take around 2.5 hours each of
testing time. The writing test takes over 2 hours (an hour for each of
two writing prompts with an additional 20 minutes for the multiple