PSSAs: An Intro
Before we begin exploring how the PSSAs correlate to equity, it might be helpful to understand a little more about the PSSA: Pennsylvania System of School Assessment.
The PA Department of Education (PDE) launched the PSSAs in 1992.
The PSSAs are standardized tests administered annually in Pennsylvania to public school students in grades 3-8. The tests are based on state standards for what students should know and be able to do at their grade level.
There are four levels on which a student may score: advanced, proficient, basic, or below basic.
Although public schools are required to administer the test, WCASD parents may choose to opt their children out of testing.
In 2019, the PA Auditor General reported that the PSSA cost PA taxpayers $18 million.
In 2020, the tests were NOT administered due to schools being closed due to the pandemic.
The 2021 PSSAs scores were lower than previous years, with the discrepancy being blamed on the pandemic.
The 2022 scores show that students have not rebounded since the pandemic.
You can view the scores at this page. Note that data is aggregated at the state level, and also by school.
Standardized testing is controversial: between the cost associated with testing--both in dollars and in time spent "teaching to the test"--to inequalities in funding (as a result of the PSSA scores) that lead to richer districts spending $5000 more per student, per year, than poorer districts.
Next week we'll take a look at the PSSA scores for WCASD, and we'll examine trends, both pre and post pandemic.