FromJacqueline Palochko“The Morning Call”
The standardized tests that Pennsylvania students take every year aren’t going away, but they will count less under a new accountability system the state is developing.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Education outlined indicators it is recommending for use in the Future Ready PA Index, which would replace the School Performance Profile scores. The new system is expected to be in place in fall 2018.
When Gov. Tom Wolf took office, he tasked the Department of Education with coming up with a more holistic approach to measuring school proficiency and growth. In December, the state announced plans to replace the SPP with Future Ready PA Index.
The SPP scores heavily depend on the results of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment and Keystone exams. Students in grades three through eight take the PSSAs, while high school students take the Keystones in biology, literature, and algebra at the end of each course.
The state “still believes PSSAs and Keystones are critical components,” Matt Stem, deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education, said Wednesday.
But in talking with stakeholders across Pennsylvania, the state heard that growth-measure scores are more meaningful in determining a school’s success than just pure achievement scores, Stem said.
The new system will include heavier weighting for offering Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment classes; offering career awareness at elementary schools; gauging progress among non-English speakers in learning English; and factoring in other reading and math assessments.
Bethlehem Area Superintendent Joseph Roy said Future Ready PA Index is “a step in the right direction because it incorporates a wider range of ways to measure the effectiveness of a school.”
Rather than giving schools a single score, the Future Ready PA Index will have a dashboard that explains how schools are doing in certain subjects, which Roy said is more effective. Under the SPP, 70 was considered a passing score with 100 being the highest rating.