Begin Main Content Area

Classroom Diagnostic Tools

The Pennsylvania Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) is a set of online assessments, divided by content areas (Literacy, Mathematics, and Science), and is designed to provide diagnostic information to guide instruction in order to support intervention and enrichment. The CDT reporting system is fully integrated in the Standards Aligned System (SAS). It assists educators in identifying student academic strengths and areas in need of improvement, and provides links to classroom resources. The CDT is a computer adaptive test (CAT) and depending upon how the student responds to the first few items; the next set of items will adjust to the student’s instructional level. The diagnostic reports feature easy-to-follow links to targeted curricular resources and materials, including units and lesson plans found within the SAS system. Students receive approximately 48–60 items per test depending upon their response pattern. The CDT is an un-timed test and it can be scheduled over multiple days. The CDT is available to districts at no cost.

Purpose of the CDT:

The purpose of the CDT is to provide information that will help guide instruction by providing support to students and teachers. The CDT reports are designed to provide a picture or snapshot of how students are performing in relation to the Pennsylvania Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content and Keystone Assessment Anchors & Eligible Content. (Mathematics and English Language Arts are aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards. Science is aligned to Pennsylvania Assessment Anchors and Eligible Content.) Because the CDT is diagnostic in nature relative to student acquisition of the standards, the data may be used to dig deeper and form flexible groups based upon changing student needs. Teachers can then conduct ongoing formative and summative assessment to determine with students whether they are making progress or not.


Pennsylvania Development of the CDT

A collaboration of Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), Committees of Pennsylvania Educators, and Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) developed and continue to enhance and expand the Classroom Diagnostic Tools.


The CDT is:

The CDT is based on content assessed by the Keystone Exams and the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and is offered to students in grades 3 through high school. Although it is not a predictor for PSSA and Keystones, it provides a snapshot on why and how students may still be struggling or extending beyond the grade and/or course Eligible Content. The CDT data, along with other data informs instruction in a timely and efficient manner. It is available for all PA K-12 school in the classroom throughout the school year on a voluntary basis. Composed of multiple-choice items, the CDT is designed to provide real-time results, ensuring valid and reliable measures of student’s skills. The results highlight student strengths and areas of need thus becoming part of the discussions between teachers, parents/ guardians, and students to set individual learning goals.

Four Interactive Reports: 

The Classroom Diagnostic Tools provides four interactive reports that can be viewed by the teacher immediately after students complete the assessment: Group Map, Individual Map, Individual Learning Progression Map, and the Group Learning Progression Map. The data gleaned from the CDT maps support individual, small group, or whole group instruction.

The CDT interactive reports go beyond focusing only on What students should know and be able to do at a particular grade and/or course. It also provides a snapshot of How and Why students may still be struggling or extending beyond the grade and/or course Eligible Content. This valuable information is typically not identified through other types of assessments. Teachers, through the use of CDT reports, may access additional information through the Learning Progression Map. The Learning Progression Map allows teachers to pinpoint where students are struggling along or extending beyond the learning continuum. The CDT helps identify, and provides suggestions, for "next steps" in student academic development.


The CDT Assessments include the following: 

  • Lower Grades (3-5) Mathematics 
  • Lower Grades (3-5) Reading
  • Lower Grades (3-5) Writing
  • Lower Grades (3-5) Science
  • 6-8 Mathematics
  • 6-8 Reading
  • 6-8 Writing
  • 6-8 Science
    • English Literature
    • English Composition
    • Algebra 1 
    • Algebra 2 
  • Geometry
    • Biology
    • Chemistry 

Benefits for Students include the following:

  • Provides specific and timely feedback designed to support student learning
  • Builds efficacy by bringing students into the processing of their own learning
  • Promotes goal-setting by involving students in the learning process
  • Provides students with opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills
  • Promotes partnering with teacher (e.g., one-to-one conferencing)
  • Ensures that follow-up instruction is meaningful and aligns with student learning expectations

Benefits for Teachers include the following:

  • Promotes teaching and collaboration with students, parents/guardians, and others
  • Provides immediate access to diagnostic reports about student strengths and areas of need
  • Promotes teacher understanding of student strengths and areas of need throughout the year
  • Allows monitoring of student achievement to guide ongoing planning and instruction
  • Guides individual as well as flexible grouping of students to target instruction
  • Provides immediate access to SAS resources to support whole and small group and individual instruction
  • Provides opportunities for teachers to reflect, collaborate, and match instruction to student need

Benefits for Parents/Guardians: 

  • Promotes collaboration with students, teachers, and others
  • Promotes conversation and understanding regarding student strengths and areas of need throughout the year
  • Provides the opportunity to view and understand their student’s achievement in a visual representation
  • Provides access to information linked to SAS resources to support their student’s learning at home
  • Enhances the partnership among the student, teacher, and parents/guardians

Benefits for Administrators: 

  • Defines an assessment resource to teachers to provide diagnostic information in order to guide instruction and provide support to students and teachers
  • Promotes shared leadership to encourage the CDT administration as part of the school culture
  • Informs the design of future professional development for all faculty and within the Induction Plan for mentoring of new teachers
  • Allows immediate access to student reports