AFA of PA ACTION ALERT
April 8, 2022
Testing Time in PA is Here – What is its purpose?
Many of you may have already received the notice of upcoming PSSA and/or Keystone (for 11th graders) testing. This is rather lengthy, but goes into detail about the testing many of your students will be facing in the coming weeks.
PSSA Testing window:
English Language Arts: April 18-29, 2022 – Grades 3-8
Mathematics: May 7-27, 2022 – Grades 3-8
Science: May 2-27 – Grades 4 and 8
The one thing to remember is that the PSSA and Keystones are assessment tests, not achievement tests. These tests are NOT achievement tests that determine what level of achievement your child has attained. On the PA Department of Education’s website it says the tests “provide students, parents, educators and citizens with an understanding of student and school performance . . . . School districts possess the freedom to design curriculum and instruction to ensure that students meet or exceed the standards’ expectations.” So . . . they will teach to the test in order to make the school look good!
They’ve been trying to make the Keystone test a graduation requirement for years, but that hasn’t happened yet! Currently, the class of 2023 will be the first class that will have to demonstrate “proficiency” in the Keystone exams. Click here for more information on the disastrous history of the Keystone Exams as well as a few examples of alternatives to meet graduation requirements instead of the Keystone exams.
From the PA Department of Education Keystone Exam website: “The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015. This measure reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. The Keystone exams meet the federal accountability criteria of ESSA for the high school level. Keystone Exams will help school districts guide students toward meeting state standards. The exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Literature, and Biology.” (What pieces of literature will they be reading? Will it be pushing climate change, green energy, socialism, anti-Americanism, LGBTQA+ propaganda? Biology?? What will it cover – ‘born gay’ or ‘transgenderism’?)
Problems with the tests include: these tests are not to prove how well your child is learning compared to students in their own grade, but it is to determine how well the school’s teachers are teaching. As a result, “teaching to the test” has become a major part of classroom instruction. The PSSA has asked subjective questions that really have nothing to do with what the child is learning in school. And then there are the essays! What type leading scenarios will be presented to your child as essay topics – critical race theory or other anti-Americanism, LGBTQA+ propaganda, climate change? In today’s woke society, what type science questions will be asked of third and eighth graders when there is the push to indoctrinate kids that they may have been born in the wrong body and can change their biological sex?
The number of PA parents/guardians who opt their children out of these 3-4 hours long tests have steadily increased.
From the PA Department of Education Handbook for Assessment Coordinators Q and A:
“May parents see the assessments? Yes, under one circumstance. School entities are required to have policies to ensure that parents or guardians have the right to review a state assessment in the school entity during convenient hours for parents or guardians from the time testing materials are received to the end of the make-up schedule in order to determine whether a state assessment conflicts with their religious belief. This is the only reason allowable under regulation.”
The only reason available for parents to opt their children out of the PSSA’s and Keystones is if they find that the test(s) are in conflict with their religious beliefs. In order to establish this, the parent has to follow a specified procedure that involves (1) contacting the school administrator; (2) viewing the test; (3) signing a confidentiality agreement; and finally, (4) notifying the district Superintendent in writing that you are opting out your child because of religious beliefs. Parents do not have to note any specific religion or specific objections to the tests.
Your child will still have to attend school the days of the testing, but the school MUST provide them with an alternative educational opportunity. That means your child cannot just be sitting in the hallway during testing time, but may be sent to the library to read or do homework.
Call your school and ask to review the tests. According to guidelines from the PA Department of Education, the school is to provide convenient hours for parents or guardians. You will be monitored the entire time you are reviewing the test. You will not be permitted to take notes. You must sign a confidentiality statement. If, after reviewing the test, you determine you have a religious or moral objection to your child taking the test, go home and write a note to the school’s principal. Remember your note does not have to name any specific religion or specific objection to the tests. Simply saying, “I am opting my child (child’s name) out of the PSSA (or Keystone) testing for religious reasons” is sufficient. Sign it and make sure it gets into the hands of the principal.