Assessments and Standards
Pennsylvania developed standards and assessments to express what students should know and be able to do and to determine how well schools are helping students meet those standards. The development of both began in the 1990’s and are a result of the evolution of the thinking by state and federal education policy makers. They are mandated by both the previous authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Improving American Schools Act of 1994 (IASA), and the current authorization known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The development of the standards began in the late 1990’s with mathematics and language arts academic standards with the 12th and final instructional area completed in 2006. Now that the academic standards are final, they will be reviewed on a schedule of every 3 to 5 years.
There are two other types of standards in Pennsylvania: Performance (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced) and Anchor Standards. The performance standards itemize, for each grade assessed, the specific knowledge and skills a student must demonstrate on the PSSA (math, reading, and writing) for each performance level: basic, proficient, and advanced. The anchor standards, or assessment anchors, “clarify the standards assessed on the PSSA and can be used by educators to help prepare their students for the PSSA.”
In Pennsylvania, the state regulation known as Chapter 4 authorizes the development and implementation of both the standards and the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) under the guidance of the State Board of Education.