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Department of Education Releases School-Level PSSA and Keystone Exams Results


Harrisburg, PA - State Education Secretary Pedro A. Rivera announced today that the Department has posted school-level results of the 2016 administration of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and the Keystone Exams.

The PSSA is administered in grades 3 through 8 in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The spring administration of the assessment was the second year that the test was aligned to the more rigorous Pennsylvania Core Standards. The PSSA science assessments administered in grades 4 and 8 were unchanged.

“The PA Core Standards are more challenging and better reflect the college and career ready skills that our students will require to be successful when they graduate; and the 2015 administration of the PSSA set a new benchmark for student performance,” Rivera said. “The results from 2016 assessment show student performance is trending in the right direction, but also that more needs to be done to help students who aren’t yet achieving proficiency”

Student scores indicate which of the four performance levels (advanced, proficient, basic, and below basic) a student has met. Proficient is considered to be “on grade level.”

The 2016 PSSA data indicates that more students are scoring proficient or advanced than in 2015 in nearly all categories of ELA and math. Proficiency in math grew in every grade level, and 2016 was the first year there has been significant growth in math year over year since 2011. However, the statewide results also show there is more work to do to help the students scoring in the basic or below basic levels.

The modest growth in student performance in 2016 underscores that transitioning to the more rigorous standards is a gradual process over several years while schools align curriculum, offer professional development to instructors, and dedicate resources to new learning tools.

Rivera added, “While the PSSA can be a helpful tool for teachers and parents, Governor Wolf and I agree that Pennsylvania needs to consider options for a more comprehensive approach to measuring student achievement. There are many pathways to postgraduate success, and our measurement should reflect a broader array of those pathways.”

Student proficiency also rose on the state’s three Keystone Exams. Scores on the Keystones do not reflect a single administration of the assessment, rather the Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments in Literature, Biology, and Algebra I, and students’ best scores are “banked” and reported in statewide data when the student is in 11th grade.

While students continue to take the Keystone Exams, there is a moratorium on their use as a statewide graduation requirement until 2019. The Department of Education submitted a report to the General Assembly in August which offered findings and recommendations about graduation requirements in the commonwealth. The report was required under Act 1 of 2016.

In addition to being needed to meet federal and state requirements, standardized tests provide useful information for educators, stakeholders, and policymakers about the commonwealth’s students and schools, and can inform instructional practices. However, due to the heavy reliance on assessment scores in evaluating schools and students, the Wolf Administration is working with stakeholders to develop a more holistic measurement to assess student achievement and school performance.

The results from the 2016 administration of the PSSA will be used to calculate the School Performance Profile (SPP), which will be released in October. School districts received Individual Student Reports in early September; district administrators determine how to distribute those reports to parents. PSSA and Keystone data can be found at:

MEDIA CONTACT: Nicole Reigelman - 717-783-9802

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