After Testing Changes, Some Pennsylvania Schools Won’t Be Rated


As a result of changes with state tests given last spring, some schools in Pennsylvania will not be receiving School Performance Profile scores this year.

A recent announcement from the state education department stated a one-year waiver would be given to the department from the US Department of Education, allowing them to refrain from using the SPP, a system meant to measure a schools’ performance on a number of factors.  However, the method relies on state tests, including the PSSA for grades 3-8.  High schools, which administer the Keystone exam in the 11th grade, will still receive SPP scores, as no large changes were made to those exams.

All public schools in the state have received such a score since 2013.  The score provides an overall performance rating taking into account a variety of factors including standardized test results, attendance and graduation rates.

“While it is critically important to hold our schools and educators accountable for student success, we must take care to do so with indicators that are fair and accurate,” said Rivera in a statement. “This year’s PSSA scores establish the new baseline from which we can most effectively measure student progress in future years.”

Between 2014 and 2015 an average 35 percentage point drop in math and a 9 percentage point drop in reading proficiency scores were observed through a Newsworks analysis.  The full 2015 results have not yet been released by the state Department of Education.

The PSSA exams for 2015 were the first to focus on the Pennsylvania Core Standards-aligned content, which could make it difficult to compare the results with previous years.  Although a decline in math and reading proficiency scores was expected, many still fear that the results could come into play when making decisions concerning educators and schools, writes Jacqueline Palochko for The Morning Call.

The waiver, however, protects educators across the state, as it keeps PSSA scores from factoring into teacher and principal assessments for the year, although they will be used for teachers whose students participated in taking the Keystone exams.

“We must prepare students to be college and career ready in the 21st century, and we need accountability measures that ensure we are on track to do so,” Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. “But we cannot overburden our students and teachers with measures that do not fairly account for performance or improvement.”

Jerry Oleksiak, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association, approved of the measure, but added that schools in the state would need three years to align their curriculum, purchase materials and train teachers.