Pennsylvania's State Assessment System
The Pennsylvania state assessment system is composed of assessments and the reporting associated with the results of those assessments. The assessments include the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA), the Pennsylvania Accountability System (PAS), the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS), the Keystone Exams (end-of-course), Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) includes assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics which are taken by students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Students in grades 4 and 8 are administered the Science PSSA. The English Language Arts and Mathematics PSSAs include items that are consistent with the Assessment Anchors/Eligible Content aligned to the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics. The Science PSSA include items that are aligned to the Assessment Anchors/Eligible Content aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science, Technology, Environment and Ecology.
Keystone Exams are end–of-course assessments in designated content areas. The Keystone Exams serve two purposes: (1) high school accountability assessments for federal and state purposes, and (2) high school graduation requirements for students beginning with the class of 2017. The Algebra I and Literature Keystone Exams include items written to the Assessment Anchors/Eligible Content aligned to the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards in Mathematics and English Language Arts. The Biology Keystone Exam includes items written to the Assessment Anchor/Eligible Content aligned to the enhanced Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science.
Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is a statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) even with accommodations. By administering the PASA to students with severe disabilities, schools achieve compliance with federal laws and the Pennsylvania School Code that require that all students participate in the statewide accountability system.
Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS) is a statistical analysis of Pennsylvania (PA) state assessment data, and provides Pennsylvania districts and schools with growth data to add to achievement data. This lens of measuring student learning provides educators with valuable information to ensure they are meeting the academic needs of groups of students, as well as individual students. PVAAS is one of the tools in the cadre of tools provided to districts from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Districts and schools are using PVAAS (growth data), in conjunction with achievement data, to make sure students are on the path to proficiency and beyond.
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the national representative assessment of what America's students know and can do in core subject areas. Teachers, administrators, parents, policymakers and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in America. Performance is reported by groups of students, e.g. by total, by gender, by racial and ethnic groups, and by participation in special programs such as those servicing students with special needs and limited English proficiency.