Tuesday, September 29, 2015

PSSA 2016 Support Public Schools and Teachers - OPT OUT

Today is September 29, 2015 - exactly 6 months since the PSSA testing was completed on April 29, 2015 statewide in Pennsylvania.  Why is this significant?   This week parents and students are receiving their PSSA scores - six months after taking the test!  Our kids are in the next grade with different teachers and in different classes and the scores (a word and a number) provide no indication what a students strengths or weaknesses are in any particular subject area.

The scores are manipulated (raw scores are not used, cut scores are determined AFTER the raw scores are in so that a certain number of students pass, and a certain number do not pass).  Cut scores are financially and politically motivated making them null and void for the purpose of student achievement or educational measurement.  PA: Ugly Cut Scores Coming explains how PSSA scores are fabricated, and not an indication of what a students academic level is.

The PSSA's stands for: Pennsylvania System of SCHOOL Assessment not: Pennsylvania System of STUDENT Assessment.  

State and School level PSSA data can be found HERE

What does this mean for parents, students, teachers and schools?  It means the test is being used to grade our schools and teachers NOT our students.

If you support public education, and public school teachers OPT OUT of the PSSA 

There is no educational value in the test, not for students and not for teachers.  We are given a word and a number (i.e. 1438/Proficient).  These tests do not provide student-specific information as far as strengths or weaknesses in any particular area.

If 5% of a school opts out, then the scores are invalidated and cannot be used to evaluate teachers and schools.  It is critical, if you support public education, and your support your child's teachers and your  community school - OPT OUT.

When to Opt Out for 2016?
You can start the process to opt out any time during the school year.  Many parents opt out in the beginning of the year so they can also opt their children out of test prep, such as Study Island and CDT's.  More information HERE.  NOTE:  Opt out letters can be emailed or mailed, I would email so you have record of when it was sent.

How to Opt Out of the PSSA's

STEP 1:  
Parent request in writing to the building principal to review exam within two weeks of exam.  Sample letter:  

Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 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 testing because of religious beliefs.
Two weeks prior to the testing window, exams must be made available for review.  School districts must provide a convenient time for the review.  Parents will need sign the 'Parent Confidentiality Agreement' that simply states they will not share what is on the test with anyone

Parent reviews test at school (usually in April, within 2 weeks of test administration).

Parent provides written request to be excused from test to the Superintendent. Can be worded same as first letter, stating that that you reviewed the exam.  Sample letter:
Dear Superintendent,
On [Date] I had the opportunity to review the PSSA test and pursuant to Pennsylvania Code Title 22 Chapter 4, section 4.4 (d)(4) I am hereby exercising my right as a parent to have my child, [Name] excused from Keystone testing because of religious beliefs.  
Superintendent reviews the request - this request cannot be denied.
School personnel must provide an alternative learning environment for the student during the assessment and complete the “Non-Assessed Students” grid by selecting “Student had a parental request for exclusion from the assessment.”

How to Opt Out of Test Prep

When you write your Opt Out letter, include in it that you are also opting out of test prep.  Sample letter:  
I am writing to inform you that [student's name] be excused from PSSA test prep, including but not limited to, ALL the CDT and Study Island computer assessments.  If there is a PSSA related assessment she is required to take I would like it to be informed prior.  While I have concerns with the educational value of the CDT and Study Island assessments, I am also concerned with the time spent test prep because of lost instructional time, data collection and privacy.  


  1. please add your name to parental rights petition: https://secure.parentalrights.org/np/clients/parentalrights/survey.jsp?surveyId=1

  2. Excellent information! Thank you !

  3. Excellent information! Thank you ! 😊