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Inside the Classroom

Change could cut Pennsylvania standardized test time

Jamie Martines
| Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 1:51 p.m.

Students in Pennsylvania will spend less time sitting for standardized tests.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced changes to the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment on Wednesday that will reduce the window of testing time by a week.

Starting in the 2018-19 school year, the PSSA will be condensed from three weeks to two. It will begin two weeks later than currently scheduled.

This year, it was announced that two sections of the PSSA — one math and one reading — will be removed from the 2017-18 test. The number of questions in the science portion of the assessment also was reduced. Those changes could reduce the time students spend taking the test by up to two days, according to a statement from the governor's office.

The changes stemmed from a new state plan for education, developed in accordance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act.

While some local educators and parents during a visit from state officials in August praised efforts to reduce testing time, others pointed out that the changes are unlikely to have a significant impact on the time students spend preparing for the exams throughout the school year.

Currently, students in grades three through eight are required to take the annual PSSA exams in reading and math. Students in fourth and eighth grades also take the science exam.

Exam performance does not impact whether a student can advance to the next grade. It could influence placement in accelerated classes or whether the student qualifies for extra reading or math support.

Many districts now schedule about eight to nine days for testing.

This spring, the PSSA will take place during a three-week testing window beginning April 9.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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