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PA Alternate System of Assessment

Pennsylvania 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


The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) Mandated Participation Waiver Application has been developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education (BSE) in accordance with the regulatory requirement under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA requires Pennsylvania to ensure that the total number of students assessed in each subject, using the alternate assessment for students with severe cognitive disabilities, does not exceed one percent of the total number of all students in the state assessed on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exams.  The local educational agency (LEA) must complete and submit the waiver application when it anticipates exceeding the one percent cap for the LEA. Information provided by the LEA will be considered by the BSE as part of appropriate oversight per ESSA of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95, Sec. 1111.

2017-18 PASA Mandated Waiver Application (PDF)

Pennsylvania 1.0 Percent Waiver Submission (PDF)

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 (