AFA of PA ACTION ALERT
April 15, 2019
Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) Testing in PA Begins
When your 3rd to 8th grade child or grandchild arrived at school today, they may have been greeted with the PSSA tests. In some schools the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams or PSSAs will begin today for grades three through eight. Remember the PSSAs are not the old achievement tests like the Iowa, California or Metropolitan, which were norm-based testing that compared students in specific age groups, and what they should have mastered in that specific grade. Schools are narrowing their curricula in an effort to boost test scores and wasting too much time preparing for them. These are the testing date windows: April 15-26 – English Language Arts — Grades 3-8; April 29- May 3 – Mathematics – Grades 3-8; April 29 – May 3 – Science – Grades 4 and 8
More and more Pennsylvania parents are opting their child out of these time and money wasting tests. Schools must allow parents to review the tests in the school during convenient hours for parents or guardians—even evening hours. The law requires schools to allow parents to review the tests “from the time of receipt through the end of the testing window.” I’ll forewarn you: you will be watched like a hawk! Confidentiality agreements must be signed, and no copies of the assessments or notes about assessment items will be permitted to leave the school. After reviewing the test, parents can then opt their child out of the testing for religious reasons only. The opt out must be in writing and does not have to cite any particular religious reason.
Seriously consider opting your child out of these assessment tests. The overall questions to consider: Are these tests necessary, if they do not compare your child’s achievement with others in his age group? What are the reasons for the tests? Are the writing prompts subjective? Is the school teaching to the test and not thoroughly covering subject matter that would be more helpful to your child in real life? According to the PA Department of Education website, the test questions are based on the PA Core Standards – PA’s name for Common Core. Is it necessary to subject your child to these hours-long tests, if they don’t truly test his or her achievement, but simply tests the ability of the school to teach to the tests?