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Gov. Tom Wolf announced in December 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.
The announcement follows the Wolf administration's earlier decision to remove two sections of the PSSA, one in math and one in English language arts, and to reduce questions in the science assessment, during the 2017-18 school year. The changes reduced the length of the PSSA by an average of 20 percent in grades three through eight.
"Gov. Wolf gets it on standardized testing," said PSEA President Dolores McCracken. "He's heard and understands what teachers, parents, and students have been saying for a long time — that the PSSA testing schedule should be pushed later into the academic year to allow for more quality instructional time. He also understands that less time spent on testing allows for more time spent teaching and learning.
"This is great progress, and we look forward to continuing work with the governor on this issue."
PSEA members are changing the conversation
For more than a decade, educators and support professionals have been speaking out about the impact of high-stakes testing, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle are starting to listen.
In addition to the recent changes to the PSSAs, Gov. Wolf signed a bill in June 2017 that provides career and technical education students with an alternative to the high-stakes Keystone Exams.
"We want to make sure that our testing policies work for our students, teachers, and support professionals," said Dolores McCracken. "By creating a more balanced, research-based, and appropriate use of standardized tests in Pennsylvania's public schools, we can find the right balance — and do what's right for our kids."
PSEA continues to be a leader in the fight to reduce emphasis on high-stakes testing in our schools. In March 2017, PSEA released a policy brief, "A Balanced and Researched-Based Approach to Standardized Testing."
Find a copy of the policy brief and learn more about our Association's work on this issue at www.psea.org/testing.