Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released results from the 2020-2021 school year administration of federally required state-level assessments: the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), Keystone Exams, and the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA).
“Historically, standardized assessment results have been an important part of understanding school performance and our work to close achievement and opportunity gaps. But this year’s results are anything but standard. We recognize that the global COVID-19 pandemic brought tremendous challenges to the school year, impacting students, teachers and staff alike, as we worked to protect the public health and safety of everyone in our classrooms,” said PDE Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Sherri Smith. “As Pennsylvania reports this federally required data, it urges caution in interpreting results given the unique learning conditions over the past few years.”
Pennsylvania, like many states across the nation, afforded school entities the option to administer assessments at any time between the traditional spring window and the following fall to allow for flexibility as schools navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Pennsylvania will not be using the test results for evaluations. The variability in testing periods, sharply reduced student participation rates, and other factors make comparisons between school entities and across school years improper.
“Given these circumstances, the results should not be viewed as a complete, representative sample of all students in the commonwealth, nor should a single assessment during an atypical school year be considered a true metric of student performance,” Smith said. “We will continue to work closely with schools to assist in the planning and implementation of evidence-based programs.”
Participation and achievement data have been added to the Future Ready PA Index, a comprehensive reporting system for presenting school-level data across a broad range of indicators, such as English language acquisition, career readiness, access to advanced coursework, and regular attendance.
Annual achievement tests are required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). PSSAs are administered in grades 3 through 8 for both English Language Arts and Math; and grades 4 and 8 in Science. The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) ensures equitable participation by students who are unable to participate in the general assessments. The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments in Literature, Algebra I, and Biology.
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