Pennsylvania System of State Assessments
About Pennsylvania’s Standardized Tests for 3rd Grade – High School
Are your kids preparing for the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments? Also known as PSSA, these Pennsylvania standardized tests measure the progress of students from 3rd grade to 8th grade, and 11th grade. PSSA test results provide actionable data that will help parents, teachers, and students improve academic performance in reading, math, writing, and science. PSSA testing is also used in evaluating each school’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
Time4Learning, an online service that teaches many of the tested skills, offers this page to support your research on PSSA tests and the best ways to help your children with PSSA practice and test prep.
PSSA at a Glance
Pennsylvania public school students take the following PSSA tests:
PSSA: 3rd Grade – 8th Grade, and High School
The Pennsylvania System of State Assessments is aligned to Pennsylvania state standards, which define what students should learn each year. The annual PSSA tests are given as follows:
3rd, 6th, and 7th Grades: PSSA tests in reading and math.
4th Grade: PSSA tests in reading, math, and science.
5th Grade: PSSA tests in reading, math, and writing.
8th and 11th Grades: PSSA tests in reading, math, writing, and science.
How PSSA Tests Are Scored
The PSSA assessments are criterion-referenced tests, as opposed to norm-referenced tests. Thus, your child will only compete against him or herself, rather than be compared against the group. The PSSA tests measure how well students have mastered the Pennsylvania Academic Content Standards and report student performance using the following four levels:
1) Advanced: Superior academic performance.
2) Proficient: Satisfactory academic performance.
3) Basic: Marginal academic performance.
4) Below Basic: Inadequate academic performance.
While high school students are not given a graduation exam, their 11th grade PSSA scores need to be at the proficient level or above. Some school districts do allow students to demonstrate proficiency in other ways. If your child is struggling with PSSA testing, be proactive. Contact the school and find out what you can do to support learning at home.
Other Pennsylvania Standardized Tests
Pennsylvania uses a balanced range of assessments to promote learning for all students. The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is designed to measure the progress of students with cognitive disabilities who require special accommodations. Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) participate in a planned program of bilingual-bicultural or English as a second language instruction (ESL), and take the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment, which measures their progress in English language acquisition.
Pennsylvania also participates annually in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the Nation’s Report Card, where a sampling of students (from grades 4, 8, and/or 12) are tested in several content areas as part of a nationally representative assessment of student performance.
A good resource on Pennsylvania state testing is the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s assessment webpage.
Preparing for the PSSA
For general tips on test preparation, please visit our standardized test overview page.
The real preparation for the PSSA tests, or any standardized test, begins with your commitment to your children’s education throughout their school years. Devote time and effort to helping your children learn. Start by making sure your kids do their homework and read every day. Many families also employ tutors or an online learning program, such as Time4Learning, to build fundamental skills.
When preparing for standardized tests, students often benefit from test prep programs and books, which offer guidance and practice with test formats, time restrictions, test-taking strategies (when to guess, when not to), and different types of questions. For instance, when a reading passage is followed by comprehension questions, many test prep programs teach students to scan the questions first in order to know what areas of the passage require close reading. Time4Learning is not a test prep program, it is a program that builds the skills that will be tested.
Time4Learning is a new approach that takes advantage of today’s technology. It’s a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun educational teaching games.
The online language arts and math curriculum comprise a comprehensive program for preschool, elementary school, and middle school. Science and social studies programs are provided as a free bonus for most grades.
Time4Writing provides highly effective 8-week writing courses online that help elementary, middle and high school students build writing skills through one-on-one interaction with a certified teacher.
Kids like using the computer to learn and to develop their skills. Time4Learning’s educational teaching games give students independence as they progress at their own pace.
Parents like that it tracks progress and helps kids advance by teaching through individualized learning paths that assure mastery of the skills and concepts that makes kids succeed.
Have a child with math and language arts skills at different grade levels? No problem, just tell us in the online registration process.
Time4Learning is proven effective, has a low monthly price, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can be sure that it works for your family, risk free!