Pennsylvania moves to dial back annual testing of students
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s governor announced Wednesday changes to the state’s regimen of standardized tests that are designed to reduce their impact and length.
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, the state’s standardized testing system, will last two weeks next year, down from three, said Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf . The testing will also be moved to later in the school year, giving students a few more weeks of learning beforehand.
David Volkman, the state Education Department’s executive deputy secretary, said in a news release that the agency was responding to pressure to refocus on learning.
“This improved schedule, along with the changes we made to the structure of the tests earlier this year, will address those concerns while maintaining the accuracy of the assessment,” Volkman said.
Dolores McCracken, president of the state’s largest teachers’ union, praised the changes.
“Gov. Wolf gets it on standardized testing,” said McCracken, who heads the Pennsylvania State Education Association. “He’s heard and understands what teachers, parents and students have been saying for a long time — that PSSA testing schedule should be pushed later into the academic year, to allow for more quality instructional time.”
The tests this year will be two days shorter than they were in 2016, won’t include math or English language arts sections and will have fewer science questions.
The Wolf administration also noted that the Keystone Exams, which test knowledge at the end of courses, are being delayed.
This year’s PSSA tests, as they are widely known, will take place starting April 9.
The changes Wolf announced Wednesday will allow districts to begin the testing in the future as late as April 25.
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