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PA Alternate System of Assessment

The Individuals with Disabilities Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires that States and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) ensure that all children with disabilities are included in all general state and district-wide assessment programs, including assessments used for purposes of satisfying the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).  If necessary, a state or LEA may create an alternate assessment.  The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) was developed in accordance with this allowance to meet the needs of students with the most severe cognitive disabilities who are not able to participate in the general assessment even with accommodations.  The PASA is aligned with Pennsylvania's academic content standards and measures the attainment of knowledge and skills of children with significant cognitive disabilities through performance tasks.  Like the state-wide standardized test (the Pennsylvania System of Assessment or PSSA), the purpose of the PASA is to provide information to school districts and other educational service providers that will aid them in improving instruction for children. 

PASA Dates for 2018-2019

​Activity ​Date
​Enrollment ​October 1-November 16, 2018
​Administrator Training ​January 14-February 22, 2019
​Testing Window (ALL Content Areas)
​February 25-April 12, 2019
​Materials Due to PASA
​April 19, 2019
​Score Reports Mailed ​August 19,2019

PASA Dates for 2019-2020

​Activity ​Date
​Enrollment ​September 30-November 15, 2019
​Administrator Training ​January 13-February 21,2020
​Testing Window (ALL Content Areas)
​February 24-April 10, 2020
​Materials Due to PASA ​April 17,2020
​Score Reports Mailed ​August 17,2020

PASA Eligibility Criteria

Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment – 1% Participation Cap Justification

Alternate Eligible Content  

The Bureau of Special Education in collaboration with stakeholder groups including parents, special education and regular education teachers, higher education staff, administrators, PSSA committee members and outside content experts developed, reviewed and finalized alternate eligible content (Grades 3-8 and 11) utilizing the PSSA assessment anchors and eligible content as the framework as required by the United States Department of Education (USDE).  The Alternate Eligible Content process and information was reviewed by the PA State Board of Education as part of the federal requirement on November 18, 2015.  Subsequently, the State Board approved the adoption of Alternate Eligible Content for Reading and Math on November 19, 2015. The Alternate Eligible Content for Science and Writing were approved on May 11, 2017.

Alternate Eligible Content is:

  • Academic content appropriate for students who are eligible for PASA (Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment)
  • Aligned to grade-level PA Core Standards
  • The modification of targets relative to the PSSA Eligible Content by reducing depth and breadth
  • Varied by grade and PA Core Standard
  • NOT a one-to-one match for every PA Core Standard and/or every piece of PSSA Eligible Content
  • The highest level of achievement for students taking PASA 
  • Adjusted through essentialization to ensure appropriateness for the variety of students eligible for PASA
For more information, please contact Lisa Hampe at 724-425-3000 ( or Lynda Lupp at 610-265-7321 (