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Academic assessments

Why is this important?
Valid assessments, aligned to college and career ready standards are necessary for a balanced, coherent accountability system.  In addition, a valid assessment system must appropriately ensure language access and accommodations.    

Pennsylvania's system of standardized assessments includes:

  • Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)
    • English Language Arts and Math - grades 3 through 8
    • Science - grades 4 and 8
  • Keystone Exams, taken once in high school
    • Algebra I, Biology, and Literature
  • Pennsylvania Alternative System of Assessment (PASA) for students with severe cognitive disabilities 

Pennsylvania's assessments are aligned to Pennsylvania’s college and career ready Academic Standards.  

Pennsylvania provides English-Spanish side-by-side assessment materials for mathematics and science

Pennsylvania’s system of standardized assessments will not change under ESSA. Based on feedback from stakeholders as well as consultation with national content experts, Pennsylvania proposes to continue using the PSSAs and Keystones for purposes of federal accountability. These assessments are well-aligned with the state’s college and career ready standards, and ensure consistent learning targets for Pennsylvania students. Under the plan, PDE has identified ways to reduce the testing time for PSSAs in English language arts and Mathematics.
On August 14, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary Pedro Rivera announced a 20 percent reduction in PSSA testing in English language arts and mathematics for students in grades 3 through 8
Revisions to the final proposed plan: 
          Clarified why Pennsylvania is not choosing to exercise the double testing exception for 8th grade Algebra I students
Read more about Academic Assessments in Section 3 of the Pennsylvania ESSA Consolidated State Plan.

Watch a webinar and view the associated PowerPoint presentation (PDF) that addresses the topic of assessment participation rates as reflected in Pennsylvania's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan.