With all of the changes taking place, and with a lot of media coverage of the situation, we wanted to take a minute to officially update you on the IASD plan to implement state testing (PSSAs and Keystone Exams) this Spring.
Federal and State Law both require that schools administer periodic exams to assess students’ proficiency in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science. Students in grades 3-8 will take the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests (PSSAs). Junior and Senior High students enrolled in Algebra I, 10th Grade ELA, and Biology take the end-of-course Keystone Exams, which serve as two of the five pathways to graduation in Pennsylvania. Although we were hopeful that the added burden of high-stakes tests would be removed from the students during a year that has been disrupted by the pandemic, the Federal Government has decided to keep them in place. Pennsylvania did apply for a waiver, and the state was granted some leniency including an extension allowing districts to test students any time between April and October of this year. The IASD has decided to take advantage of this extension and to delay the PSSA (Keystone Testing Window will remain the same), but only until May of this school year. This decision was made for several reasons:
- We want to allow our students as much time to learn as possible before the exams, but do not want to place another 3-month learning gap (Summer) between learning and the test.
- Testing students in the Fall on material they learned the previous school year may confuse, frustrate, or cause even more undue stress on our children.
- Testing in the Summer would be difficult for families and costly for the district.
- We do not want to disrupt the 2021-22 school year with an additional round of standardized testing.
- Any data that could be useful and relevant in informing instructional decisions must come from the most valid results possible. We believe the May testing window will provide the highest level of validity possible in this scenario.
Obviously, the testing schedules that always present logistical problems, will be even more complicated this year due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Each building will be running their tests a little differently because of their unique challenges, but here is the general breakdown:
The IASHS is compacting the testing to three days - May 17, 19 and 24. This compaction is necessary for several reasons. First and foremost, the testing window the state provided overlays our AP testing window as well as our own Final Exams. The traditional approach of spacing the tests out over several weeks is simply not an option. The other reason is to limit the time non-testing students will miss class. All students who are attending school in-person, and those who are attending remotely will test on those three days. In order to implement the tests in a way that will optimize the students testing environment, and out of respect for the safety and peace of mind of all families, we are making arrangements to isolate the one group from the other in the two wings of the building. In order to accomplish this, the majority of staff will be needed to administer the exams. All non-testing students will be assigned an asynchronous remote learning day for each of the state testing days. Your students testing schedule along with more detailed and specific information will follow soon from the building administration.
The IJHS will administer the PSSAs between May 11th and May 25, and will administer the Keystone Exams to the Algebra I students on May 26th through the 28th. Students enrolled in our online learning programs will be tested on the established remote learning days for the rest of the students to minimize their exposure and respect their safety concerns. More detailed and specific information will follow soon from the building administration.
Horace Mann and Eisenhower Elementary:
The 4-5 buildings will be following similar schedules and will be administering the PSSAs on May 11th, 12th, 13th, 18th, 19th, and 20th. Special arrangements will be made to test our students enrolled in online learning in an isolated location within the building. More detailed and specific information will follow soon from the building administration.
Ben Franklin and East Pike:
State regulations require all 3rd Grade students to take the PSSAs in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Ben Franklin Elementary and East Pike will be testing those students between May 18th and May 26th. Special arrangements will be made to test our students enrolled in online learning in an isolated location within the building. Specifics will vary between the buildings, and those details will be communicated soon by the building administration.