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.

News & Updates

Gov. Wolf reduces the length of the PSSA

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 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.

Go to PSEA's Legislation Action Center to take action.

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 Treasurer Rich Askey