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What is PA Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS) and how does it relate to the new School Performance Profiles?

You may have heard of the term “PVAAS” associated with Pennsylvania’s School Performance Profiles recently released by the PA Department of Education.   

PA Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS) is not a separate assessment; it is a calculation using data from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exams to measure how much groups of students “grow” academically from one test administration to the next.  

What is the relationship between PVAAS, PSSA, and Keystone Exams?
PSSA and Keystone Exam data show academic achievement at a point in time and determine whether or not a student or group of students has met a specific grade-level standard of knowledge and skill.

On the other hand, PVAAS analysis determines how much a student should “grow” from one year to the next (based on how much the student has “grown” in previous years as measured by the state test) and then compares students’ actual growth with the growth that was predicted by previous scores. The Pennsylvania Department of Education believes that by reporting both students’ academic performance (PSSA and Keystone Exams) and their academic growth (PVAAS), schools, districts and the general public have a more comprehensive picture of a school’s impact on student achievement.  

Using PVAAS scores to evaluate school quality is very controversial for many reasons. For example, many critics point out that PVAAS calculations don’t take account of some very important circumstances that impact student achievement and growth, such as poverty, student health issues, student attendance or how frequently students move. Furthermore, PVAAS only measures student growth on state tests. It does not take into account student growth as measured by classroom assessments, student portfolio work, laboratory experiences, or other measures of student achievement. Nor does it measure student growth on socio-emotional or behavioral indicators, which are critical to life and career success after school.  

As a reminder, these are the standardized tests Pennsylvania students are required to take: 

  • PSSA – Reading and Math grades 3-8, Science grades 4 and 8, and Writing grades 5 and 8
  • Keystone Exams: Algebra I, Literature, and Biology

This fall, PDE used PVAAS data to account for 40 percent of a school’s score on the School Performance Profile.  A Profile has been posted on a state website for every public school in the Commonwealth. The profile will also be used in the teacher evaluation system beginning in 2013-2014. 

Paid for by PSEA