Pennsylvania gets waiver on using PSSA scores to assess schools, teachers

Sep 9, 2015 by

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Just weeks before the state is expected to deliver bad news about test results, the U.S. Department of Education has given the state permission to pause for a year in the way it uses the results of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.

The PSSA results won’t be used for computing School Performance Profile academic scores — which give school buildings throughout the state a rating of 0 to 107 — nor will they be used in teacher evaluations during the pause, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday. Without the federal permission, Pennsylvania would have had to calculate the SPPs, which likely would have been lower than those for the prior year, potentially affecting whether teachers were considered proficient and causing image problems for schools.

State officials later this month plan to release school-by-school results, which are expected to show that districts throughout the state have fewer students who are considered proficient or advanced on the PSSA tests in math and English language arts in grades 3-8.

The most recent PSSAs tested students on new standards — known as the Pennsylvania Core Standards and based on the Common Core State Standards. Many view the new standards as more rigorous, including requiring students to learn some skills at earlier grade levels, and the new tests as more difficult, including the level of reading required even for math.

The changes are significant enough that last year’s results can’t be compared with this year’s, said Allison McCarthy, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Source: Pennsylvania gets waiver on using PSSA scores to assess schools, teachers | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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