PSSA test procedures

Published September 2008 Voice

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Unclear rules on administering PSSA tests are causing concern for an increasing number of PSEA members throughout the state.  Pennsylvania has seen several cases involving districts attempting to discipline members for allegedly violating testing administration requirements.

“PSEA is vigorously defending the rights of any member facing charges of violating rules,” PSEA General Counsel Lynne Wilson said.  “Members should clearly understand the state and district guidelines before giving PSSAs to students.”

PSEA recently won a case involving claims a teacher violated state guidelines when giving the tests to two learning-disabled students.

A court upheld an arbitrator’s ruling finding the district improperly dismissed the teacher because the testing guidelines provided to teachers were confusing and still under development by PDE.

Wilson advises members to follow the current PDE guidelines and:

- Unless your district’s policies provide otherwise, report violations of test procedure in writing to the school superintendent or PDE’s Division of Assessment if -- and only if -- you personally observed the alleged conduct.
- Read and follow all test administration instructions carefully.
- If you do not understand instructions or how to apply the instructions to particular students, submit a written request to your supervisor for clarification.
- Request that your supervisor put the clarification in writing for your future reference and retain a copy of the clarification for your records.
- Request assistance from the association if your employer fails to respond to your request for clarification.
- Attend your district’s annual orientation for test administration.
- Submit a written request for additional training and or guidance if you have general or specific questions or questions about providing accommodations to individual students.
- Request assistance from the association if your employer fails to respond to your request for training and/or guidance.
- If you are accused of an alleged violation, assert your right to have an association representative present.
- Contact your PSEA UniServ representative and PSEA Region Attorney if you have any other concerns or doubts as to whether you are complying with PSSA guidelines or if you have a question about whether or not to report a potential violation of testing procedures.

- Report violations of test procedure that you heard about through gossip or rumor.
- Conduct your own investigation regarding violations of test procedure.
- Include your personal opinion in any report that is made.
- Falsify test scores, provide answers to students, tell students their answers are incorrect, or correct students’ answers.
- Read any portion of the reading assessment to a student.

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