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Pennsylvania 1.0 Percent Requirement Compliance Plan Update

Pennsylvania submitted a 1.0 Percent Compliance Plan of action to the US Department of Education in August of 2019 in response to the letter received from USDE in June of 2019 outlining the state’s current status regarding compliance with the federal 1.0 percent threshold requirements. PDE has implemented a comprehensive actionable plan to address the 1.0 percent threshold requirement, with additional measures of oversight and technical assistance added during the 2019-20 school year. BSE representatives are active participants in the technical assistance opportunities offered through the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) 1% Community of Practice calls, as well as and the NCEO and Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation (CSAI) Peer Learning Groups. A core team from PA meets on a regular basis with NCEO representatives to discuss the state’s plans to address the 1.0 percent threshold, and how the plans may be adjusted to account for the 2020 COVID-19 statewide assessment cancellation. Like many states, the school closures related to the pandemic occurred within the AA-AAAS testing window. Approximately 48% of enrolled students were able to complete the assessment in 2020. While the original plans for this submission were to include 2020 testing data, the state is not able to provide conclusive data on the number of students who ‘would have’ participated. The state’s AA-AAAS digital enrollment system typically carries over information from year to year. Therefore, many students listed in the 2019-20 enrollment data were not planning to test. and were not able to be coded as such prior to the school closures/test cancellation. Moving forward, PA will provide USDE with an update on the robust plan of oversight and monitoring that occurred within the 2019-20 school year. The state anticipates that 2020-21 enrollment data will show a decrease in the number of students statewide who will take the AA-AAAS this year.

The following is a summary of actions taken during the 2019-20 school year in accordance with the1.0 Percent Requirement Compliance Plan submitted in August of 2019.

Part I: Summary of Actions in 2019-20

  • Tier 1 Universal Monitoring: LEA 1.0 Percent Threshold Justification - The form and submission process for LEAs to submit justification if they anticipate exceeding the 1.0 percent threshold was updated in 2019. The justification contents include the requirement for any LEA who anticipates exceeding the 1.0 percent threshold to submit justification to the state, including a break down of their participation data by disability category, and any relevant factors that may be contributing to the overage. The LEA is also required to submit a plan of action to address the 1.0 percent threshold requirement. The process for the LEA to submit their justification contents to BSE was updated this year, requiring the LEA to submit the contents of their justification via a survey link. This provided BSE a more feasible way to collect, extract, and analyze data.

    BSE received 390 justification submissions for the 2019-20 school year. The name of every LEA who submitted a justification was posted to the PDE website in November of 2019 and updated in February of 2020. LEAs were also trained on the requirement to make the justification information publicly available without disclosing any personally identifiable information.

    2019-20 List of LEAs who anticipate exceeding the 1.0 percent threshold.

  • Review of Justification Data - With the new electronic submission process of the justification data, BSE was able to garner more in-depth input on the planned participation rates of students taking the AA-AAAS for the 2020 testing cycle in the Fall of 2019. Preliminary review of participation data submitted by LEAs in the justification data showed an approximate 6.5 percent of students planned to take the AA-AAAS in 2020 with a primary disability category of Learning Disability (LD). The state has placed additional focus on this area, as the percentage of students who tested on the AA-AAAS with a primary disability of LD in 2018 was 8.8%, and 7.0% in 2019. Although this percentage seems to be slowly decreasing, the BSE considers any student with a primary disability of LD participating in the AA-AAAS to be a ‘red flag’. Therefore, additional efforts were placed on outreach and training to address appropriate alternate assessment eligibility determinations made by IEP teams. In February of 2020, BSE ran an updated list of students enrolled to take the AA-AAAS with a primary disability of Learning Disability, as well as those students with a primary disability category of Speech and Language Impaired. BSE representatives conducted personal outreach to LEAs on these lists. The following table shows a projection of how many students in these disability categories were removed from the testing at the point where schools were closed due to COVID-19. It is expected that more students may have be removed at the end of the testing window since this is the typical time in which LEAs would remove a student by coding them as ‘non-assessed’ in the state’s AA-AAAS digital system. As stated above, the timing of the COVID-19 closures may have precluded many students from being properly updated in the system this year. Therefore, it is projected that these numbers would have shown a larger decrease at the end of the testing window.

    ​Primary Disability
    ​# of students
    tested in 2019
    ​# of students enrolled at time of closure due to COVID-19
    ​Learning Disability
    ​Speech/Language Impairment
  • Additional review of the 2019-20 justification submissions shows the following:

    • 40% of LEAs who completed the electronic submission report a projected decrease in their anticipated 2020 participation rates.
    • 50.5% of the respondents report they have special circumstances such as being host to special programs that service students with significant cognitive disabilities.
    • 98.4% of the responses report that AA-AAS decisions are made by the IEP team answering yes to all six of the state’s eligibility criteria.

  • Statewide Training and Technical Assistance- Review of participation data and justification submissions were a driving force in the focus of the training conducted in the 2019-20 school year, with an extra focus on explaining the state’s eligibility criteria in more depth and identifying why students participating in the AA-AAS with certain disability categories may be considered a ‘red flag’. The BSE conducted the annual webinar ‘PASA Getting Ready’ on September 25, 2019. The contents of this training not only include updates to the test administration process, but information and guidance on the 1.0 percent threshold compliance for LEAs. The new justification process was reviewed, as well as a focus on the state’s 6 criteria of eligibility to participate in the PASA (Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment).

    Additional training and outreach to include 1.0 Percent Threshold requirement guidance was also achieved via BSE representatives participating the statewide Intermediate Unit Directors meetings throughout the year to provide updates and important guidance to be shared with LEAs across the state.

  • Tier 2 Targeted Monitoring: Online Training Requirement - BSE added a second tier of oversight and monitoring in 2019-20, which served as an addition to the 2 tiers already in place in prior years, creating 3 tiers of oversight and monitoring specifically to address the 1.0 percent threshold.

    LEA 1.0 Percent Compliance

    After review of the 2019 AA-AAAS participation numbers, BSE recognized a need to add an additional tier of oversight and monitoring to cover a larger number of LEAs in the state who exceed the 1.0 percent threshold. On December 5, 2019 a written communication was issued by BSE to 233 LEAs in the state who exceeded the threshold by 2% or more in the 2019 testing year. These LEAs were required to have at least 3 participants (Special Education Administrator, Building Administrator, and a teacher who works with students taking the AA-AAAS) view a webinar entitled ‘1.0 Percent Compliance, Making Appropriate PASA Eligibility Decisions’. Each of the participants were required to submit an online comprehension/completion survey as verification they viewed the webinar and understood the contents. Currently, over 1100 participants completed the webinar and completion survey. This data shows that many LEAs had more than the minimum of 3 participants complete the webinar.

  • Tier 3 Focused Monitoring: Intensive Needs Review – The Intensive Needs Review (INR) process began in the 2018-19 school year and was conducted again New during the 2019-20 school year. The BSE identifies LEAs to participate in a required ‘Intensive Needs Review’ process based upon excessively high AA-AAAS participation rates. The criterion used for the 2019-20 school year was a participation rate that exceeds the 1% threshold for two consecutive years, with a rate of over 4% in the 2019 testing cycle. LEAs with an ‘N’ count of less than 500 students in the tested grade levels were excluded from the identification process. 14 LEAs were required to participate in the Intensive Needs Review process in 2019-20 to include submission of the INR data protocol and a minimum of 2 IEPs for BSE review. A preliminary review of enrollment data for the 14 LEAs showed a projected reduction of 103 total students collectively from all 14 LEAs in which IEP teams reviewed eligibility determinations and decided the student(s) should take the general assessment rather than the alternate.

  • 95% Participation Rate - PA recognizes the need to address the overall participation rate of students with disabilities in state assessments, as outlined in the state’s 1.0 Percent Compliance Plan of action submitted in August 2019. PA is not able to apply for a 1.0 percent waiver because the state continues not to meet the requirement for 95% of students with disabilities participation in statewide assessments. The Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction and the Bureau of Special Education are working collaboratively to address this matter. A memo was released by PDE to the field in 2019 to focus on the importance of assessing at least 95% of students, including those with disabilities in statewide assessment. Additionally, training slides were included in the 2019-20 PASA trainings such as the ‘PASA Getting Ready’ to outline the importance of the 95% participation requirement. Additional review of the 95% participation requirement will be included in the 2020-21 ‘PASA Getting Ready’ training.

Part II: Preliminary 2020 AA-AAAS Participation Projections

The PASA (PA Alternate System of Assessment) window was scheduled to run from February 24 – April 10, 2020. BSE ran enrollment projections in March after schools had closed to gauge an approximation of 2020 AA-AAAS participation rates. Many students were still showing up in the enrollment system that would not be assessed. While student enrollment can be updated at any time, it is typical for users to update students accordingly during the open testing window. Therefore, the enrollment projections numbers may not accurately reflect students who may have been enrolled in the Fall and had updated eligibility decisions made by their IEP teams after initial enrollment. The enrollment projections were showing a decrease in total number of students that would participate in the AA-AAAS in 2020.

2020 Enrollment Data as of March 13, 2020

​Number of
Students Enrolled


As mentioned earlier in this report, PA was not able to obtain actual tested numbers of students or a participation rate for the 2019-20 testing cycle due to the COVID-19 school closures and state assessment cancellation.

In conclusion, Pennsylvania implemented a robust course of action to address the 1.0 percent threshold, with additional measures of training and oversight provided in the 2019-20 school year. Preliminary projections based upon the state’s AA-AAAS digital enrollment file prior to the testing window opening showed an anticipated decrease in AA-AAS participation.

Moving forward, PA will continue to address the 1.0 Percent Compliance Plan during the 2020-21 school year, with adjustments made to the required oversight and monitoring procedures to account for not having tested data for the 2020 testing cycle. Dynamic Learning Maps, DLM, will serve as the state’s alternate assessment and vendor for the 2020-21 school year. The new enrollment system will not automatically roll over student lists from the previous system. Therefore, users will be prompted to take a closer look at their enrollment lists to ensure only those students who meet the state’s six criteria of eligibility as determined by their IEP team will participate in the AA-AAAS this year. It is anticipated that 2020-21 enrollment numbers will provide a better projection of what the state’s final participation rate will be.

PA will continue to work collaboratively with the NCEO support team to develop and refine the state’s plan of action and provide updates to the USDOE as requested.