Harrisburg, PA – After concerns from teachers and parents that standardized testing played too big of a role in schools, Pennsylvania will change its testing policies.

Pennsylvania students will only take the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) for two weeks next year, instead of three weeks. The test will also be given later in the school year so students have more time to prepare.

Jerry Oleksiak, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, says it’s a step in the right direction and that heavy standardized testing takes away from the learning process.

“They don’t tell us everything we need to know about our schools,” Oleksiak said. “So, while we’re happy to see some of the progress being made, my question is always, ‘What is that costing us in terms of the things we are giving up in our schools?"”

According to Oleksiak, students now spend more than 100 classroom hours a year on test preparation alone, while many are sacrificing things like art, music and elective courses.

“Things that our kids love, that keep them in school,” he said. “We need to focus on what we know works for our kids, and filling in bubble sheets on standardized tests do not do that.”

PSSA testing will start statewide this year on April 9, but next year it could start as late as April 25. There will also be fewer questions on the test. The English and math language skills portions have been removed, and they have cut down on the number of science tests.

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