Friday, November 28, 2014

Project-Based Assessment 'Take Two'

The PDE states that students who opt out of the Keystone exam will be required to take the project-based assessment in the 2016-2017 school year.  This is currently being challenged as the PBA is not available for parental review which is in conflict with PA School Code Chapter 4.4(d)(1)(2)(3) that provides a process for parental review.  

Also, the content of the PBA is aligned to the modules of the Keystone exam, therefore the content is the same.   The religious opt out would apply to the PBA in the same manner it applies to the Keystone exam.  

Parents have been in contact with John Weiss, Director, Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Assessment and Accountability for clarification on these two issues.  According to Mr. Weiss on 11/4/2014 these questions are: "in our Office of Chief Counsel".  This blog will be updated with that response.

**Parents can request to review the Project-Based Assessment**

The below letter may be used until further clarification is obtained.

Dear Superintendent:

I would like to review the project-based assessment prior to [my child] taking it.  As you know PA School Code Chapter 4.4(d)(1)(2)(3) states: 

(d) School entities shall adopt policies to assure that parents or guardians have the following: (1) Access to information about the curriculum, including academic standards to be achieved, instructional materials and assessment techniques.  (2) A process for the review of instructional materials.  

Per Chapter 4.4(d)(5) parents can opt out of the Keystone exam.  The content of the PBA is aligned to the modules of Keystone exam, therefore, the religious opt out for the Keystone Exam would apply to the PBA as the content is the same.


Opt Out Letters/Forms

Opt Out letters provided below for: 
  • PSSA's/Keystone Exams
  • Computer Assessments (Study Island, CDT's) 
  • COPPA information for students 12 years old and younger
  • Refuse the PBA for class of 2017 and beyond

Opt Out Request for PSSA's and Keystone Exam
This can be sent anytime during the school year.

Dear Superintendent:

Pursuant to  Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [NAME], excused from PSSA/Keystone testing because of religious beliefs.


After Review Letter:
Parents will need to review the PSSA during the two weeks prior to their administration.  This letter can be submitted at the time of the review or soon thereafter.  This request cannot be denied.

Dear Superintendent:

On [DATE] I had the opportunity to review the PSSA/Keystone test and pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [NAME], excused from PSSA/Keystone testing because of religious beliefs.

Opt Out Letter for Computer Programs and Online Assessments 
Dear Superintendent/Principal/Teacher(s):

I am writing to inform you that [my child] be excused from all CDT, Study Island and any other computer assessments and programs.  I request paper/pencil assessments only.  If there is a computerized assessment or program my [son/daughter] must take, I require prior parental informed consent and an anonymous student login where [his/her] name or student ID is not attached.

After much research regarding common core, Pennsylvania’s statewide longitudinal data system and its collection and sharing requirements, I have become even more suspicious and skeptical on the state's ability to secure data.  Since my daughter is not of legal age to legally bind herself to ownership of her personal data, that responsibility falls on her parents.  Since the Pennsylvania Department of Education will not allow me to opt her out of the increasingly invasive data collection through PIMS I will remove her from the means for data collection.  

I am sure you can appreciate my desire to protect my daughter from the possibility of identity theft at an early age.  While I do have concerns with the educational value of the Common Core aligned CDT and Study Island assessments, my biggest concern with electronic assessments is data collection and privacy of my minor child. 


The Children’s Online Privacy Protecting Act (COPPA)

For students age 12 and younger, please read the information provided at: UNITED OPT OUT regarding COPPA.

“The Children’s Online Privacy Protecting Act (COPPA) allows parents to control what information is collected online from their children twelve and under. Therefore, as a parent, you have a right to find out what information is being collected, you can review what information is being collected, and you can REFUSE to allow your child to participate in the online program.  You can simply opt your child out of the program – or the online test.”

Letter for student in the class of 2017 and beyond to opt out of the Keystone exams and refuse the PBA:

Dear Superintendent;
Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have [student name], excused from Keystone testing because of religious beliefs.
I am also writing to respectfully inform you that [student name], under my guardianship and advice, will be refusing to take any of the project-based assessments.  Please note that this means she will not be scheduled in a remedial PBA class at any time and should remain in her core and elective classes throughout the school year.  You DO NOT have my parental permission to administer the PBA to my minor child, [student name].  


Thursday, November 6, 2014

2011 PSSA versus 2014 Keystone Exam

Using data provided by the PDE website below is a comparison of Pennsylvania State Standardized results.  The 2011 results are for 8th grade students pre-Common Core and the 2014 results are for 2014 post-Common Core where the 8th grade students from 2011 would be in 11th grade.

8th Grade PSSA 2010-2011                    Keystone Exam Results for 2013-2014

Math 126,486 Students                    Algebra 1  203,357 Students
50.2% Advanced                               14.6% Advanced 
26.7% Proficient                                25.5 % Proficient
11.7% Basic                                       44% Basic
11.4% Below Basic                           16% Below Basic

Reading 127,125 Students                Literature 143,298 Students

57.7% Advanced                               5.9% Advanced
24.1% Proficient                               46.5% Proficient
9.3% Basic                                        35.1% Basic
8.9% Below Basic                            12.5% Below Basic

Science 127,075 Students                Biology 164,757 Students

24.3% Advanced                                17.7% Advanced
34.0% Proficient                                 23.7% Proficient
18.9% Basic                                       31.7% Basic
22.9% Below Basic                            26.9% Below Basic

Source:  PDE Website and Keystone results found HERE

PSSA Cut Score Range          Keystone Cut Score Range

                        PSSA                        Algebra         Biology         Literature
Below Basic    700-1182              1200-1438      1200-1459      1200-1443  
Basic              1183-1297             1439-1499      1460-1499      1444-1499  
Proficient        1298-1471             1500-1545      1500-1548      1500-1583  
Advanced       1472-2561             1546-1800      1549-1800      1584-1800