Sunday, March 11, 2012

PSSA testing tomorrow

PSSA testing begins tomorrow.

A notice from PPS indicated that students can take as long as they wish to complete tests. Was that always the case?


Anonymous said...

Yes. There are some general guidelines for how long they SHOULD take but students could always take more time if they need it.

Anonymous said...

Why would PSSA testing start the first school day when the kids have had an hour less sleep? Has this always been the start date? It makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

YES. This was ALWAYS the case, most definitely students are permitted AS MUCH TIME AS NEEDED to complete each section of the test!

However, many schools set their own time limits for their own reasons, outrightly disadvantaging students who needed more time and violating official protocol.

The time alotted must be continuous for each section. In other words, each section must be completed without stopping for lunch or other arbitrary time limits. (A students may take a bathroom break but must be escorted to and from the testing room.)

The directions are very clear and explicit. and it is REQUIRED that DIRECTIONS be READ ALOUD to the students, in their entirety by the proctor for each and every section of the test, no exceptions. (This too is frequently violated, particularly for "make ups.")

Check with your children to make sure that they are being given every "accommodation" for success. Demand that protocol be followed. It is to the advantage of your child! NO SHORTCUTS!

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:07, when my kids were in school I was surprised when I learned about the accomodations and frustrated when I would mention it to other parents who did not know. This was a long time ago now and I recall district level parent trainings where the PSSA was discussed and the message was exactly as you state on accomodations. I wonder how many kids actually request the additional time?

Anonymous said...

The testing dates are set by the state. You have a window (10 days) to fit in 6 days of testing, including make-ups for kids absent.

So, while you could skip Monday testing, it might bite you at the other end of the window.

Testing has varied just in the last couple years from early in March to early in April.

Anonymous said...

Well, I never had known about accommodations- only for special education students.

As a parent, the PSSA testing lacks validity with all the other variables kicked in for student accommodations.

Well, with the hot weather kicking in this week in the 70’s, the schools are going to be hot and very oppressive. Our children and young adults are going to be having spring fever. One can forget teaching after lunch-the KIDS HAVE GONE WILD.

One crazed parent had her fifth grade son riding his bike last night—Sunday night until 10 PM.

Yes, in the dark. You can see the mentality of the parents.
And within a week the kids will be sick with colds from the high to low fluctuating temperatures.

Anonymous said...

The PSSA does not lack validity because of "accommodations". All of the rules have been in place for the last 12 years at least. There are multiple yearly training sessions available to all school districts. PPS does not attend PDE training sessions. Hopefully, they do read the detailed PSSA administration booklets that accompany the tests every year. We know, however, Pittsburgh rarely follows rules and regulations other than their own which change frequently. What can be said about students' scores in Pittsburgh would fill volumes based on the arbitrary and capricious practices and procedures here. PPS categorically and outrightly rejects all assistance from PDE educators trained and assigned to assist failing districts over the past seven years. How does this happen? Politics, PR, incompetence, arrogance, who knows; but probably all of the above.

The evidence here is voluminous and could well initiate another "How we got here . . . ." documentation trail in terms of achievement progress, lack thereof. (There is not enough time or space here to begin such an evidence trail. . . . and what would be the point or purpose?)

P.S. Perhaps the word "accommodations" is confusing since there is a set of these for various categories of Special Ed. However, there has NEVER been a requisite time limit for students taking the test. They have always been permitted as much time as it takes according to PA state regulations.

Anonymous said...

6:48 - It's only six days of testing (in a 10 day window) if you administer one section per day. Some districts use only two days of the ten for testing, administering several each day. So there are choices made in rolling out the test. The PA rules determine sequence of how tests are administered during the ten days, not how many sections per day. You make judgments about what's best for your student population. You have that autonomy. Students who take "makeups" because of absence or tardiness, are generally disadvantaged because, typically, they are gathered in one place taking different sections of the test which does not allow for the reading of different sets of very specific directions applicable to the different sections. This convenience for adults significantly disadvantages students. Try to avoid having your children absent or late on PSSA testing days OR demand that test protocol is followed for "makeups."

Questioner said...

You probably don't have to demand- just asking should do! But are the instructions really so specialized from section to section, or in comparison to other tests students have taken? If so- instructions should be available ahead of time and students can be prepared (as they are with SAT's for example). Since PSSA's are very important to PPS, it is hard to believe PPS would neglect something like communicating instructions adequately.

Anonymous said...

A few questions about the 11th grade PSSA please. One local school district's website (Bethel) mentions that the results of the
11th grade pssa are included on a student's transcript. Could this be correct? I don't remember seeing it on my kid's PPS transcript. Do we know if any evidence exists to tell us if making the testing days short days for 9, 10, and 12th graders to give 11th graders a better testing environment is a good thing? Some schools do it (Mt. Lebo) and others don't.

Anonymous said...

10:18 - Yes, many school districts take the PSSA scores very seriously and include them on transcripts. It is valuable in higher education considerations. However, it is a district decision. In districts where they are graduating students who are "not proficient" it is not to the district's advantage to post low PSSA scores of their students. (You get the picture.)

Students who score low an a minimum skills test like the PSSA generally do not do well at the college level and frequently drop out.

Anonymous said...

8:35 - As previously stated, the instructions are "required" to be read aloud to students, exactly as written, for each section, as part of the process. This keeps the process standardized. And, yes, the directions are DIFFERENT for each sections, since the directions are pertinent to the content of the section. HOW the directions are read and WHETHER the directions are heard and understood by students is IMPORTANT, perhaps even very important. Proctors who do not teach the content of the test being administered will not read the directions with quite the same emphasis as teachers who teach the content and want students to do well on the test. Just a fact.

Anonymous said...

After 15 years of PSSA and 10 years of accountability for the PSSA, there truly is no excuse for not meeting PA’s minimum standard targets. We know all that we need to know to embed the skills that constitute PSSA into every content and situation in ways that students master the skills needed. The fact that student and school scores do not reflect acquisition of the minimum target score is the fault of poor systems, strategies, and school influences. Over the years the PDE website and PDE free conferences have provided abundant lessons, models, examples, videos, and strategies across content areas and grade levels for every single skill that is assessed on PSSA. These are applicable for every classroom and situational opportunity. Parents and tutors have access to the same if the schools are not meeting the child’s needs. Thus, there is no reason for students not to be successful on the PSSA where there are interested and caring adults

Anonymous said...

I would like to respond to the PSSA tests and proctoring the tests. This year, there are some teachers in some PPS schools that are not administering the test to the classes that they teach. I understand that students should be able to do well without their usual teacher administering the test, but the environment that the teacher establishes is very important. Some teachers in PPS can administer the test to their students as their are enough bodies in the bldg to watch that cheating does not occur.
Teachers know their students and what will set them off, who can sit where etc....Some teachers are proctoring the test to students that they don't even know and when passing out the test---they could be giving it to an incorrect student. Teachers work hard to establish a routine, environment for their students and the expectations. Now, PPS is not allowing teachers to administer the test to their students. How do they think this will affect the VAM scores? It is very very disheartening.

Anonymous said...

It is very disheartening that admin does not have sufficient trust in their teachers to allow them to administer the PSSA. Certainly, the optimal testing conditions are in an environment where students are testing with their own teachers as proctors and place where trust between teacher and students is strong.

When administration cannot trust its teachers, there is a serious problem. It speaks to the culture of that school. Often it is the case that those who do not trust are themselves not trustworthy.

Such a culture is not likely to produce good results in terms of achievement or anything else. Sad.

Anonymous said...


At North Allegheny-the test is timed and the way the test goes-no ifs and or buts. All students take the test in required days with the same required time allotments permitted per test.. Special Education students are permitted to have their Special Teachers read the Questions and answers is a monotone voice to the individual student that needs by request of raising their hand to have the questions read. They feel the instructions are necessitated and read by a teacher proctor for the tests.

Well, my neighbor who happens to be a PPS substitute teacher states in certain buildings they are having subs galore coming in for teachers from all academic subjects.

Why? In one schools the Art Teacher is proctoring the test and needs a sub teacher to cover classes for him when the tests are over.

Perry High School has enough of subs on for the week-you would have thought as my neighbor stated-the school faculty was going on a cruise as a field trip for thid week.

All a teacher has to do is read the instructions in a monotone voice.

I still state a concern about the validity of test scores. Why because PPS Administration does not trust the teachers.

Has anyone found out if PPS was cleared by the state PDE like other school districts from not cheating or illegal touching the student test answers? I would like an answer.

Hear Obama is doing the same with some teachers getting subs-is this true?

My kids are in elementary and they seem to have their own teachers.

What is going on in certain schools as I mentioned and not in others?

Anonymous said...

North Allegheny has no worries about achievement on the PSSA. The NA students AVERAGE over the 90th percentile in "proficiency." Even the "economically disadvantaged" are at the 89th percentile and the special ed students meet the PA minimum standards. Clearly, whatever NA is providing is quality for ALL students and there are no students who need time beyond what is being scheduled to finish the test.

Does 8:29 know how much time NA schedules for the test? Whatever, it is clearly sufficient!

Anonymous said...

Lots of substitutes seems an efficient way to cover all bases during testing. Hopefully, they are freeing up time for regular teachers to do the testing. It seems unlikely that any of them are administering the test. There would be no advantage to that. So why worry about the number of subs?

Anonymous said...

8:29 -
What would be the purpose or advantage to reading the directions in a monotone voice?

A little drama, emphasis, and inflection where needed should be used to capture students' attention and keep it.

Anonymous said...

The questions have to be read with as little inflection as possible to students who need questions read to them -- due to IEPs or other difficulties.

Math questions can be read to any student as long as it is marked down.

Anonymous said...

Having subs are great=but if you read
Why? In one schools the Art Teacher is proctoring the test and needs a sub teacher to cover classes for him when the tests are over.


Definitely a concern?

Why an Art teacher giving the test and not the regular classroom teacher?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:22
Using your type of voice tones can emphasize certain answers or give students-hints, etc, etc, etc,

That is the first thing in theater never be monotone. As you watch or listen to the daily news-that is the approach that is taught in Communications-monotone.

Yes, A little drama, emphasis, and inflection where needed should be used to capture students' attention and keep it-yes when you are teaching or reading from books as a teacher or lecturer.

Do you remember ever taking tests-SATS, GRAD Tests –no drama-just the proctor reading the directions.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone found out if PPS was cleared by the state PDE like other school districts from not cheating or illegal touching the student test answers?

Also, I would like an answer just like the previous poster asked-maybe this why they have different proctors

Anonymous said...

10:41 - No, no, no! The "directions" go on, sometimes more than a page! You want students to listen to every word and remember it! THEN, when the proctor FINISHES reading, students BEGIN the test and there is no more reading of directions until they take the NEXT section of the test.

There is NO READING of DIRECTIONS DURING the TEST. However, it is very important that they listen, and listen carefully so as to remembers what is required to be read before the proctor says to start the test.

Then all is silent until that section of the test is completed.

Whatever it takes---to keep attention during the reading of "directions"---and that is NOT a monotone!

Questioner said...

Is there a link anywhere to the instructions? In most cases (SAT, terra nova, etc) instructions just are not a very big deal.

Anonymous said...

11:36 PM

You need to cool your wheels as a teacher/proctor.

I had the privilege to ask my children about the reading of the PSSA directions.

To be honest you seem to have no-self-control or self-esteem to believe you have students that are not going to pay attention to you reading directions, having students to follow along. For a whole page.

As my children stated by now being in fifth grade-they have dealt with PSSA-for three years they know what is expected of them.

They actually suggested that if a teacher cannot have his/her students pay attention-they even stated the worst city schools that this would be an issues-where this climate could be prevalent-get the Principal to read your PSSA directions or another teacher maybe!

This way the students will not have to suffer and you feeling this bad about proctoring a test as a teacher-since you must follow the directions and being this visibly upset-Take a few days off and another teacher in the school-Coaches, etc. will do it.

Questioner said...

Here is a link to PSSA test administration materials including instructions for each grade and section:

- There does not seem to be any reason for teachers not to thoroughly explain test instructions in advance of the test day. There is certainly no prohibition against it, and if it would help students there are probably districts and teachers that do so.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that this is what is read to students before the test begins?

Questioner said...

Yes, what is read to students is included; for 5th grade math the script to read to students and info on what to show them, etc. is on pages 12-14.

Anonymous said...

My kid told me after the first 2 days they didn't read instructions, no one needed them.

Old Timer said...

As a teacher, it's clear to me that I went into the wrong profession. Writing tests, accumulating data and offer consultancy services could have not only reaped me at least double my teacher salary, but could have kept me out of the classroom and away from being continually scapegoated by media, government types and parents.
As a society, we've done a splendid job of demonizing teachers. Now, some would have you believe that there are those among us who would cheat to push scores ahead. Complete and utter garbage.

The funny thing is that even in this era of making the point that teachers are the problem in public education, nothing has changed. Our kids are still underachieving in comparison to the rest of the world.

When will someone have the courage to tell it like it is: the great majority of kids who lack support and supervision of caring parents simply do not see education or standardized tests especially as anything more than a mandated nuisance. We've watched our nation play the blame game for a number of years--now, with a cretin like Bill Gates funding the effort--when the answer is clear, but politically incorrect.

The problem has and always will be the "invisible" parent, until someone holds THEM accountable. At that time, in true dominoes fashion, you'll see the need for carpetbagging test writers, researchers and administrators disappear, as well. What a great gig these people have, especially when no one has the chutzpah to tell the truth.