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Pennsylvania says schools can delay standardized tests until the fall

Allentown Morning Call logo Allentown Morning Call 2/27/2021 Jennifer Sheehan, The Morning Call

Pennsylvania will give public schools the option to delay federally required standardized testing until the fall, state Department of Education officials announced Saturday.

Extending the window for testing still allows Pennsylvania to comply with federal law while at the same time acknowledging the difficulties faced by teachers, administrators and students throughout the pandemic, education officials said.

Among the standardized tests that can now be delayed: 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).

“Since the start of this pandemic, our work has been centered on protecting the health and safety of students, educators, and school staff across the state,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega in a prepared statement. “Our decision to extend the testing window continues to prioritize their health and safety and creates needed flexibilities for our unique school communities.”

Ortega on Friday submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Education indicating that the state will offer the option to public schools.

State officials said offering the testing flexibility still ensures that the state will receive necessary data to identify areas of learning loss, opportunities for learning acceleration and to better understand the inequitable impact of the pandemic on students, including low-income students, students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Education released new guidance on assessment administration, including an extension of the testing window, allowing for postponement till summer or fall and the option of remote assessments when possible. Currently, there is no blanket federal waiver available for school assessments for the 2020-2021 school year.

Pennsylvania will not use any assessment results that derive from a pandemic year for any high-stakes purpose, including school improvement designations.


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