March 27, 2018
PSSA Testing — What is it and Should You Opt Your Child Out?
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams or PSSAs will begin on April 9th 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 dates: April 9-13, 2018 – English Language Arts — Grades 3-8; April 16-20, 2018 — Mathematics – Grades 3-8; April 23-27, 2018 – Science — Grades 4,8 and April 30-May 4, 2018 – Make-up.
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. 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.
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? 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?
Listen to the recent interview with Cheryl Boise, an education advocate from Allegheny County. You can listen here Seriously consider opting your child out of these assessment tests.