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Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera announced this week 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.”
What this means for students
Beginning this school year, students in grades three through eight will spend an average of 20 percent less time on statewide testing, and 25 percent less time on math, English language arts, and science sections.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education plans to remove a section in math and another in English language arts, and remove some questions from the science section. These changes could eliminate up to two full testing days in some schools.
“Gov. Wolf reaffirmed what educators have been saying for a long time – that too much emphasis on standardized testing interferes with teaching and learning,” said PSEA Vice President Dolores McCracken. “PSEA members are eager to work with the governor and Education Secretary Pedro Rivera to continue to make commonsense, research-based changes to our state’s testing policies.”
Read PSEA’s full statement here.
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 like Gov. Wolf are starting to listen.
As Gov. Wolf announced the state’s plans to reduce time students spend taking the PSSA, he noted the feedback he’s received from educators, students, and parents about the problem of overtesting.
In June, Gov. Wolf also signed a bill 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, 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.