Study session: Tips and information about the PSSA and Keystone Exams

Partners Post, February 2014

Parents may wonder, “How can I support my child during high-stakes testing?” Read on to learn more about the testing and some tips for supporting your child.

PSSA Testing - Beginning in March, elementary and middle school students will be taking Pennsylvania's state tests in reading, math, writing, and science. The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides a testing window, within which each school district will determine its exact testing calendar and time schedule. All public school students must take the tests during the designated testing windows.

March 17-28
Reading and Math: Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 

March 31-April 4
Writing: Grades 5, 8

April 28-May 2
Science: Grades 4, 8

Keystone Exam Testing - While the winter Keystone testing window has concluded, there are two more testing windows scheduled this school year for spring and summer. Algebra I, Biology, and Literature exams will be administered during each of the testing windows. Students in grade 11 who have not previously taken Keystone Exams are required to complete all three during the 2013-14 school year. Any student in grade 9 or below enrolled in a Keystone-related course is required to take that Keystone Exam. Beginning with the graduating class of 2017, all students are required to pass the Keystone Exams in Algebra I, Biology, and Literature in order to graduate from high school. 

Algebra I, Biology, Literature: May 12-23 and July 28-August 1

How can parents support children who will take high-stakes tests like the PSSA and Keystone Exams?

  • Make sure to know the school's testing calendar and schedule.
  • Avoid scheduling trips and appointments that would result in a student missing a testing session. All students must take the tests, so any absent students will be required to make up tests during a make-up session, possibly when other students are in class.
  • Make sure test-takers are aware that the tests will include some easy questions and some hard questions. 
  • Arrive on time to school on testing days.
  • Make sure students get a good night's sleep and eat a healthy breakfast. Rest and healthy foods increase stamina during testing periods.
  • Ask your child if he/she has any concerns about taking standardized tests and try to alleviate these concerns by encouraging your child to do the best he/she can.
  • Remind students to listen carefully to the directions and ask questions if they are not certain what to do.
  • Encourage your child to take his/her time answering the questions. The testing procedures allow any student to have extended time to finish the test.
  • Help children keep the testing in perspective and be aware that these tests are a snapshot of a student's performance at a point in time. Other measures that show student learning might include: classroom assessments, projects, research reports, writing, benchmark assessments, and portfolios.








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