Frequently Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA)
Asked Reading and Mathematics Assessment
Grades 3- 8, and 11 – March 2007
Information for Parents or Guardians
What is the PSSA designed to do? Who decided what the assessment should measure?
The PSSA is designed to provide information about Groups of educators from all levels of education in
the quality of schools to parents, school districts, and Pennsylvania chose the areas of knowledge on which
the general public. the assessments are based. The groups included
teachers, supervisors, curriculum directors, and
Who Is Participating in the writing assessment? collage specialists. They also reviewed edited, and
Students in grade 3-8, and 11 in all 501 districts will approved the test items.
take the reading and mathematics assessments. Since
the assessments are designed to help determine the Who will administer the assessment?
quality of the school programs, all students are to be Each school chooses the person(s) who will administer
included in the assessments, except for a few students the assessments. In most cases, these are the students’
who meet specific criteria. Nonpublic and private teachers, who are often helped by the principal or
schools may voluntarily participate. guidance counselor.
How long is the assessment and when will it occur? How will the written responses be scored?
The reading and mathematics assessments will take The written responses for reading and mathematics
approximately six hours. The assessment will be items will be scored by evaluators trained in applying
scheduled by the school district to take place during a pre-determined scoring system. In reading and
the testing window of March 12 through March 23, mathematics, scores will be based on content only.
2007. Your school district should inform you about Spelling and punctuation are not included as part of
the assessment schedule. the scoring process.
What will the writing assessment include? How will the results be reported?
Each student will answer three sets of items for each Reports for reading and mathematics will be sent to
of the reading and mathematics assessments. the school districts for distribution to parents, teachers,
Examples of the types of items that appear in the and guidance counselors and/or principlas. The state
assessments are provided in Item Scoring Samplers will not receive any reports with individual names
available on PDE’s Website at: www.pde.state.pa.us included.
The samplers contain multiple-choice questions, open-
ended questions, scoring guidelines, and sample Results will be reported by school for curricular and
responses. planning purposes. School districts will publish the
PSSA testing results for each school. The state will
What will be assessed in reading? also release school-by-school assessment data.
The reading assessment addresses two elements of the
reading process. Students will indicate (1) Can parents (Guardians) see the writing
comprehension and reading skills and (2) analysis and assessment?
interpretation of fictional and nonfictional text by Once the assessment arrives at the school, parents
answering multiple-choice questions where the correct (guardians) may review the assessments by making
answer is chosen from four presented options, and by arrangements with the school assessment coordinator.
answering open-ended questions that require students Confidentiality agreements must be signed, and no
to write their responses. copies of the assessments or notes about assessment
items will be permitted to leave the school.
What will be assessed in mathematics? If, after reviewing the assessments, parents do not
Through the use of both multiple-choice items and want their child to participate in the mathematics or
open-ended items, the mathematics assessment reading assessments due to a conflict with their
addresses the five major Reporting Categories. The religious beliefs, they may write to the school district
proportion of items devoted to each Reporting superintendent prior to the beginning of the
Categories varies by grade level. In addition, as a part assessment to request to excuse their child from the
of the assessment of Reporting Category A, Numbers assessment.
and operations, students will respond to a special
section of items in which the use of a calculator is not
permitted. The open-ended performance tasks require
the students to show all of their mathematical work
(calculations, graphs, drawings, etc.) and to explain in
writing how they solved the problems.
TESTING DATES FOR THE 2007 PSSA ARE:
Wednesday, March 14; Thursday, March 15; Friday, March 16