Key Issue: High-Stakes Testing

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Key Issue: High-Stakes Testing

Educators, students, and parents agree that our schools spend too much classroom time on standardized testing and test prep — time that would be better spent on teaching and learning.

For more than a decade, educators have been speaking out about the impact of toxic, high-stakes testing on our schools and students, and policymakers are finally starting to listen.

Take action on graduation options legislation

The PA Senate has approved Senate Bill 1095, legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom McGarrigle that offers students who do not score proficient on the Keystone Exams alternative pathways to demonstrate their readiness to graduate from high school.

The Keystone Exam graduation requirement has been delayed until the 2020-21 school year. The alternate graduation options in Senate Bill 1095 would take effect when the Keystone Exam graduation delay expires.

News & Updates

Gov. Wolf announces reductions to PSSAs in 2018-19 school year

Gov. Tom Wolf announced in December 2017 that starting in the 2018-19 school year, the testing timeframe for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) will be reduced from three weeks to two weeks and shifted to later in the school year.

The move is designed to ease stress on students and to give them up to two additional weeks to learn before taking the assessment.

Gov. Wolf reduces the length of the PSSA in 2017-18 school year

Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera announced that Pennsylvania will reduce the length of the PSSA by an average of 20 percent in grades three through eight.

“This reduction will ease the stress placed on our kids, and will allow students and teachers to focus more on learning than on testing,” Wolf said. “This change should also reassure parents that we’ve listened to their concerns about overtesting.”

PSEA supports standardized testing reform bills

PSEA is working with elected officials from both parties to reduce high-stakes standardized testing in our schools. A package of bills introduced in April 2017 will help move Pennsylvania toward that goal.

Here's what the bills will do:

Local control over Keystone Exams' impact: This bill prevents the state from mandating that graduating students pass the Keystone Exams to get their high school diplomas. Instead, school boards will decide the academic impact of the Keystones.

Use of test results: This legislation would mandate that PSSA and Keystone Exam results only be used to comply with federal law and growth-score calculations.

Benchmark assessments: This bill prohibits public schools from purchasing assessments from a private vendor that are designed to predict a student's ability to succeed on the PSSA or Keystone Exam.

PSSA testing timeline: The PSSAs would be administered three weeks prior to Memorial Day and provide the results to the chief school administrator no later than Aug. 15.

Parent opt-out: Parents would be able to opt-out of standardized testing for religious, philosophical, or health concerns. State law currently allows only a religious opt-out.

You can urge your state lawmakers to support PSEA's testing reform package.

Policy brief: A Balanced and Researched-Based Approach to Standardized Testing

PSEA released a policy brief aimed at ensuring that standardized tests are used the way they were intended and do not interfere with classroom instruction.

The brief includes three policy recommendations:

  1. Reduce the amount of time spent on the Pennsylvania State Standardized Assessment (PSSA).
  2. Separate Keystone Exams from graduation requirements.
  3. Ensure that statewide standardized tests are used only for government accountability requirements.

PSEA is ready to work with Pennsylvania to undertake a full review of the state’s testing system, including the impact of student test scores on educator evaluations.” – PSEA Vice President Rich Askey