Teacher’s union president calls for moratorium on new PSSA test

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Students taking multiple choice test

HARRISBURG, Pa. – The head of state’s largest teacher’s union has called on policymakers to enact a three-year moratorium on the use of new, tougher Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests so that schools, students, and educators can adequately plan for and implement it.

The Pa Education Department release of the statewide 2015 PSSA results on Tuesday revealed an average 35 percent dip in math and a 9 percent drop in English/language arts scores across the state. Students in urban school districts typically posted the lowest scores.

Scores statewide are so low, Governor Wolf asked for and received a one-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to not use the scores to rate elementary and middle schools, or to evaluate their teachers. The scores are normally used to determine a school’s annual report card, known as a School Performance Profile.

Pennsylvania Education Association President Jerry Oleksiak today issued the following statement.

“Across Pennsylvania, parents, educators, and students are confused by the rapid rollout of new state standards, new PSSA tests, and new PSSA cut scores. The bottom line is that the rollout of this new system has been neither clear nor consistent. Instead of rushing it, the state needs to take the time to do it right.
“PSEA supports the Wolf administration’s action to secure a federal waiver to pause the use of the new PSSAs in school performance profiles for one year. A one-year pause is a good start, but we continue to advocate for a three-year moratorium on the use of the new PSSA system.
“Schools need time to align their curriculum, instructional materials, and professional development to this new system. These things just don’t happen overnight. If we’re going to do this right, we need to take the time to plan for it.”
Oleksiak was a special education teacher in the Upper Merion Area School District. An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents approximately 180,000 future, active and retired teachers and school employees, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.

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