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​Annotated Guide to PDE Resources


COVID-19 impact projections on student learning suggest the need for data to guide educators in planning curriculum, assessment, and instruction to support students and target resources accordingly. Accurate, valid, and reliable assessment data can provide valuable information in times of disruption and uncertainty (Kuhfeld & Tarasawa, 2020). The Pennsylvania State Literacy Plan (PaSLP) states, "diagnostic assessments are defined as assessments which determine student strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills. Administering diagnostic assessments permits the instructor to intervene at the point where students begin to struggle (such as in MTSS-RtII) or when they are performing below grade level expectations" (p. 72). Diagnostic assessments allow teachers to adjust curriculum and instruction to meet the unique needs of all students.

As LEAs consider their diagnostic assessment tools to facilitate re-entry decisions and to accelerate learning for all students, the following questions may be helpful.

  1. What diagnostic assessment tools were used to evaluate student learning prior to school closure?
  2. What assessment data collection shifts occurred with the move to remote learning?
  3. How will the shifts in assessment data collection affect assessments moving forward?
  4. What assessment data collection supports will be needed?
  5. What diagnostic assessment tools are needed to identify learning gaps?

PDE supports diagnostic assessment with the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) and classroom formative assessment with the Assessment Center located on the Standards Aligned System (SAS).

Pennsylvania Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT)

The CDT is a set of online content area assessments designed to provide diagnostic information regarding students’ strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful to consider the CDT to provide critical data as a starting point to plan instruction for the reopening of schools. Since the CDT is directly aligned to PA’s assessment anchor/eligible content (AAEC), it can save time in identifying the most essential skills to target for groups of students. Although not a predictor of PSSA and Keystone Exam performance, there is a strong correlation between the CDT and state assessments. The CDT identifies and provides suggestions to support academic development by identifying specific eligible content students should work on next. This will mediate unintentional effects of spending too much time on reviewing previous grade-level skills or not enough time in teaching content necessary to access current grade-level skills.

The CDT reporting system is fully integrated into SAS. The diagnostic reports feature easy‐to‐follow links to targeted curricular resources and materials, including units and lesson plans.

The CDT is available to districts at no cost. Students taking the full CDT may receive up to 50-60 questions. The new shorter version, Diagnostic Category CDT, provides the student with 15-18 items for each diagnostic category test. Although the CDT is an untimed test, teachers may want to plan for 20-30 minutes to administer each of the Diagnostic Category CDT. For the reading category, teachers may want to plan for 35-45 minutes. To access enrollment information and other documents for the CDT.

Standards Aligned System (SAS) Assessment Center

The Standards Aligned System (SAS) Assessment Center offers educators the ability to create customized benchmark, formative, and summative assessments by selecting standards-aligned items from the SAS item bank or by creating test questions utilizing the SAS step-by-step process. Tests can be custom designed and revised as needs dictate.

Through the Assessment Center's Check for Understanding tool, educators can design formative assessments as instruction continues. As students complete the online assessments, educators receive immediate feedback on student performance. This type of quick formative assessment saves valuable teaching and learning time which is essential for closing the instructional gap.

Curriculum Alignment

As LEAs make re-entry decisions, leaders and teachers may want to evaluate and adjust curriculum and instruction to meet the unique needs of all students. When identifying the curriculum gaps, the district may examine the previous year's curriculum along with the current year's curriculum. Cross-grade teachers may use the following questions to guide decisions for a seamless integration of identified gaps into the current year's teaching and learning.

  1. What shifts in curriculum have occurred since moving to remote learning?
  2. How will these shifts affect teaching and learning moving forward?
  3. After identifying learning gaps, are there places in the current year's curriculum that can support missed teaching and learning from the previous year?
  4. What curricular supports will be needed?

PDE can support curriculum alignment with the PA Literacy Needs Assessment (PaLNA) and the Standards Aligned System (SAS).

PA Literacy Needs Assessment (PaLNA)

The PA Literacy Needs Assessment (PaLNA) can be used as a guide for educators to identify shifts moving forward. The first three sections: Standards & Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction may guide LEA decision making. Utilizing the data team approach as described in the PaSLP (pages 127-130) will support this process.

The PA State Literacy Plan (PaSLP) is a framework for developing a comprehensive system that ensures literacy growth from early years through high school graduation. The PaSLP can serve as the basis for curriculum development in a school or district. Schools can use the plan to determine to what extent their literacy program addresses the Guiding Principles and Essential Elements described in the plan.

For additional resources for School Librarians and Media Specialists, please visit American Library Association | Awards, publishing, and conferences: ALA membership advocates to ensure access to information for all

Curriculum Maps and Instructional Frameworks

The Standards Aligned System (SAS) provides access to all content standards and curriculum frameworks in most content areas to assist LEAs identify gaps in curriculum. As an additional step for math and ELA, SAS provides instructional frameworks including grade level modules (curriculum maps). SAS provides a curriculum mapping tool and template for any content area.

The Curriculum Maps in Mathematics include Big Ideas, Concepts, Competencies, and Essential Questions aligned to Standards and Assessment Anchors and, where appropriate, Eligible Content. Concepts describe what students should know (key knowledge) as a result of this instruction specific to grade level. Competencies describe what students should be able to do (key skills) as a result of this instruction, specific to grade level. An LEA can use the framework information to guide teacher discussion and help identify learning gaps. Mathematics Curriculum Maps are available for Algebra I, Algebra II, and geometry.

Pennsylvania developed Instructional Frameworks based on the Pennsylvania Core Standards in the subject areas of math and ELA. The frameworks begin with pre-kindergarten and conclude with high school courses through grade 12. The frameworks are not intended to be all-inclusive but are designed to be used as examples of content and topics that are aligned to the PA Core Standards. LEAs can customize the modules to meet learning gap needs.

Remote Learning Resources

As LEAs make re-entry decisions, instruction may include remote, face-to-face or blended teaching and learning. LEAs should consider the following questions:

  1. What were the instructional and learning strategies prior to school closure?
  2. What instructional and learning shifts occurred with the move to remote learning?
  3. How will these shifts affect teaching and learning moving forward?
  4. What instructional resources and supports will be needed?

PDE can support the continuity of education with the SAS Resources for Instruction, Text Dependent Analysis Toolkit, STEM Toolkit, and OER Commons.

Continuity of Education - Resources for Instruction

As LEAs provide continuity of education for all students, PDE Content Advisors have compiled resources for educators to use when planning instruction. Resources are arranged by subject area and include both teacher and student-friendly sites.

Note: These external sites are not under the management or control of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and are not governed by the privacy or security policies of the Commonwealth. We have provided links to these sites because they have information or features that may be of interest to LEAs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not necessarily endorse the views expressed, or the facts presented, on these sites. Furthermore, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised on these sites.

Text Dependent Analysis Learning Progressions

The Text Dependent Analysis Learning Progressions (TDA LPs) are an instructional tool that illustrates the pathway in which students demonstrate their ability to integrate reading comprehension and analysis through a written essay. The TDA LPs were created for instructional planning and as a tool for analyzing student responses based on Text Dependent Analysis prompts.

STEM Toolkit

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education is an integrated, interdisciplinary, and student-centered approach to learning that encourages curiosity, creativity, artistic expression, collaboration, computational thinking, communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and design thinking. The STEM toolkit includes resources for students from kindergarten through grade 12, and contains lessons, units, and projects created by Pennsylvania teachers that provide equity and access to all students.

PAIU Ope​n Education Resources (OER) Commons

PAIU OER Commons is a collaboration of Pennsylvania's 29 Intermediate Units that work to meet the educational needs of students, schools, and communities in the commonwealth. This resource is a public digital library of free educational resources for educators to explore, create, and collaborate with other educators around the state to improve curriculum. The contents of PAIU OER Commons have been authored or created by an individual or organization that chooses to retain few, if any, ownership rights.​