GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE PSSA
Which schools participate?All school districts and charter schools participate in the assessments. Nonpublic schools may also participate on
a voluntary basis.
Which students take the assessments?
Except for a very few students who meet specific criteria for participation in an alternate assessment, all students are included in the assessments as outlined below:
ELA & Mathematics – Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8
Science – Grades 4 and 8
Who decided what the assessment should measure?
Groups of educators from all levels of education in Pennsylvania chose the areas of knowledge upon which
the assessment is based. The groups included teachers, supervisors, curriculum directors, and college specialists. They also reviewed, edited, and approved the test items.
Who administers the assessment?Each school chooses the person(s) who will administer the assessment. In most cases, these are the students’ teachers, in the students' building.
How are the results reported?
Two copies of the individual student report for all assessments will be sent to all schools and districts that participate for distribution to parents, teachers, school counselors and or principals. The state will not receive any report with individual names included. School level reports will be used for curricular and planning purposes. School districts and charter schools may publish the results of PSSA testing for each school. The state will also release school-by-school assessment data.
May parents see the assessments?
Yes, under one circumstance. School entities are required to have policies to ensure that parents or guardians have the right to review a state assessment in the school entity during convenient hours for parents or guardians at least two weeks prior to their administration to determine whether a state assessment conflicts with their religious belief. This is the only reason allowable under regulation.
Confidentially agreements must be signed and no copies of the assessments or notes about the assessment items will be permitted to leave the school. If after reviewing the test, parents or guardians find the test to be in conflict with their religious belief and wish their student(s) to be excused from the test the right of the parents or guardians will not be denied upon written charter school Chief Executive Officer or AVTS Director. Parents or guardians should contact their child's school to make arrangements to review the test.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS ASSESSMENT (GRADES 3-8)
How long does the assessment take?
The entire English Language Arts assessment takes approximately three to four hours to complete. Your school district will inform you about the assessment schedule.
What does the assessment include?
Each student completes four sections of questions for the ELA assessment. Some portions will be the same for all students and some will consist of different groups of questions.
What types of questions are on the assessment?
Students respond to multiple-choice, evidence-based selected-response, and constructed-response questions. In a multiple-choice question, the correct answer is chosen from four options. Evidence-based selected-response questions have two parts, and students select one or more answers for each part. Constructed-response questions may include a writing prompt, short-answer (grade 3), and/or text-dependent analysis (grades 4 through 8.) The writing prompt requires students to compose a response using one of three modes: narrative (grades 3-8), informative/explanatory (grades 3-8), opinion (grades 3-5), or argumentative (grades 6-8). Short answer questions require students to compose a brief response to support their answer. For the text-dependent analysis question, students' analyze a text and use evidence from the reading passage to compose an essay.
How are written responses to constructed response items scored?
The written responses for English Language Arts are scored by evaluators trained in applying an ELA-specific scoring guideline. For short-answer questions scores are based on content only. Spelling and punctuation are not included as part of the scoring process. For writing prompts, scores are determined using a holistic scoring guideline that includes composition skills as well as conventions. Responses to text-dependent analysis questions are scored based on both content and writing skills.
What is assessed in English Language Arts
The English Language Arts assessment addresses six major reporting categories as well as two text types. Students respond to a writing prompt and standalone multiple-choice items assessing language. Additionally, students read a number of passages from literature and informational genres and respond to questions about these passages that indicate both comprehension and reading skills and the students' analysis and interpretation of different types of texts.