The Pennsylvania State Board of Education took action last week to adopt new cut scores for the state assessment—the PSSA. New cut scores, or dividing points between proficiency levels, were needed due to the change in format and difficulty of the 2015 state assessment. This year’s assessment was based solely on the PA Core Standards, adopted in 2013. These new standards are more rigorous to better prepare students to be college and career ready upon graduation.
In the coming weeks, official student and district 2015 PSSA data will be released. An analysis of preliminary statewide data indicates lower standardized test scores, particularly in mathematics. Statewide, proficiency rates in grades 3-8 dropped on average by 35.4 percentage points in math and 9.4 percentage points in English Language Arts. These data results will significantly impact School Performance Profile (SPP) scores.
Over the past three years, the Littlestown Area School District has rewritten English Language Arts and Mathematics curriculum to align with and reflect the rigor of the PA Core Standards. The district has adopted Go Math! published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the upcoming school year and will also be implementing a 120 minute literacy block aligned to the PA Core Standards in all K-5 classrooms. Director of Curriculum and Technology, Dr. Lori Stollar states, “PSSA results provide one data point for consideration in making curricular and instructional adjustments.” The district will continue to analyze a plethora of student data, including PSSA results, to continuously inform the teaching and learning cycle. A similar situation occurred at the high school level when 11th grade PSSAs were eliminated and replaced with the Keystone Exams. “What is most exciting about a change like this is it allows us to invest additional time and money in ensuring LASD students can compete globally. “