The Pennsylvania state assessment system is comprised 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 Keystone Exams (end-of-course).
The 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.
English/Language Arts PSSA Grades 3-8
The English/Language PSSA is aligned to PA Core Standards. Students are assessed on their ability to comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a range of fiction and non-fiction selections. Likewise, they are asked to produce writing to address tasks, audience, purpose, and perspective. Additional skills assessed include those related to the craft and structure of language and vocabulary acquisition and usage.
Math PSSA Grades 3-8
The Math PSSA is aligned to the PA Core Standards in Math K-12. The Math PSSA assesses the ability of students to understand and solve complex and novel mathematical problems. Students are asked to apply mathematical knowledge to analyze model situations and relationships using appropriate tools to make decisions, solve problems, and draw conclusions. PSSA Math assessment categories include Numbers/Operations, Algebraic Concepts, Geometry, and Data Analysis/Probability
Science PSSA Grades 4 & 8
The Science PSSA include items that are aligned to the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Science, Technology, Environment and Ecology. Science assessment categories encompass: Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Earth and Space Sciences
The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is the statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in Grades 3-8. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), even with accommodations.
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Literature and Biology. Beginning with the class of 2017, students must demonstrate proficiency on these assessments in order to graduate. There are multiple opportunities for students to take the Keystone Exams throughout their high school career. The Keystone Exams are designed to measure student competency in the PA Core Standards, standards aligned with expectations for success in college and the workplace.
The Keystones are untimed exams, taking most students a total of two to three hours to complete the two modules on each test. Multiple choice and constructed response items are included. The following modules define the assessment components for each of the exams:
Algebra I - Operations and Linear Equations & Inequalities /Linear Functions and Data Organizations
Literature - Fiction/Non-Fiction
Biology - Cells & Cell Processes/Continuity & Unity of Life