HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released and posted online the statewide and school-level results from the 2017 administration of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exams.
"Standardized tests help identify success and needs in students and schools so they can prioritize and plan, as well as meet federal and state reporting requirements," Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said. "However, high-stakes testing does not tell the full story and the Department is taking several actions to better communicate student progress in our schools. Beginning this school year, the time required to take the PSSAs is reduced by an average of two days, allowing students and teachers to focus more on learning, and in future years the Department's Future Ready PA Index will create a more accurate reporting system for school districts."
This year's 2017 PSSA scores in English Language Arts and mathematics saw slight increases over last year, with consistent gains in English Language Arts for each of the past three years among 3rd grade scores across all subgroups.
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments in Literature, Biology, and Algebra I. Keystone Exam scores amongst first-time test-takers remained relatively flat over last year's scores, but there was a noticeable reduction in retests administered. In Algebra I, this equates to nearly 7,000 fewer retests, nearly 6,000 fewer in Biology, and nearly 3,000 fewer in Literature. Students' best scores are "banked" and reported in statewide data when the student is in 11th grade. Banked grade 11 scores showed a decrease in all three subject areas.
The PSSAs and Keystone Exams are used as part of Pennsylvania's statewide accountability system, as required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Pennsylvania submitted its ESSA Consolidated State Plan to the U.S. Department of Education for review and approval on September 18, 2017.
The results from the 2017 administration of the PSSA will also be used to calculate the School Performance Profile (SPP), which will be released in October. As part of its efforts to provide more comprehensive measures of school performance, the Department will launch the Future Ready PA Index during the 2019-20 school year, replacing the SPP as Pennsylvania's forward-facing school report card. The Future Ready PA Index will utilize a dashboard approach to present school-level data, and will feature a broad range of indicators, such as English language acquisition, career readiness benchmark indicators, access to advanced coursework, and chronic absenteeism, among others.
Last month, Governor Wolf and Secretary Rivera announced a reduction in testing time for students taking the PSSA exams. Beginning this school year, students and teachers in grades 4 through 8 will spend an average of 20 percent less time on statewide testing, and an even greater reduction – nearly 25 percent – for Pennsylvania's youngest students. The Department has identified and removed two sections – one in math, one in English language arts – and additional questions from the science section, which could eliminate up to two full testing days for some schools.
There is a moratorium on the use of Keystone Exams as a statewide high school graduation requirement until 2019. Last year, the Department submitted a report to the General Assembly offering recommendations about graduation requirements in the commonwealth, and since then, the governor has signed into law House Bill 202, which provides alternate pathways to graduation for career and technical education students.
"The work we've done through Pennsylvania's ESSA plan and alongside our colleagues in the General Assembly shows that we're taking the first steps on the long road to achieving overall school improvement," Rivera added. "The plans and goals that the Wolf Administration has identified as priorities will ensure that all students – no matter where they live – will have access to a rich educational experience that will prepare them well for future success."
PSSA and Keystone data can be found on PDE's website.
MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, 717-783-9802
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education