No Child Left Behind, PSSA data, and Adequate Yearly Progress
Here are some questions and answers that may help!
What is the PSSA? The PSSA (Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment) is a standardized test administered in all public schools in Pennsylvania. It has been mandatory since 1998. Beginning in the 2005-06 school year, the reading and math tests will be given to students in grades 3-8 and 11. What do PSSA scores mean? Students are identified as performing at one of four levels: advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. The four performance levels will be defined below. The No Child Left Behind legislation states that all students must reach the proficient or advanced level in reading and mathematics by 2014. Define the four performance levels on the PSSA
The four performance levels are defined as:
- Advanced - This level reflects superior academic performance. This level indicates that students have an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania Academic Content Standards.
- Proficient - This level reflects satisfactory performance. Proficient performance indicates a solid understanding of the Pennsylvania Academic Content Standards.
- Basic - This level indicates a partial understanding of the state standards and marginal academic performance.
- Below Basic - This is the lowest performance level. It reflects inadequate academic performance and little understanding of the state standards.
Do students have to pass the PSSA in order to graduate? Students must demonstrate proficiency in reading and math in order to earn a high school diploma in Pennsylvania. If students do not score at a proficient level on the PSSA test in 11th grade, they have an opportunity to take a retest in the fall of their senior year. Schools can provide alternative ways for students who are not proficient on the 11th grade PSSA to demonstrate their proficiency in order to graduate. What is Adequate Yearly Progress?
AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) is the way we know whether schools and school districts are making progress towards the NCLB goal of having all students at proficient level or above in reading and mathematics by 2014. School district and individual school must show AYP in several measurable indicators:
- student achievement - PA state targets for 2004-05 were 45% at or above proficient in mathematics and 54% of students at or above proficient in reading. These targets will remain in place through the 2007-08 school year and will gradually increase until 2014 when 100% of students will be expected to be at the proficient or above level.
- attendance or graduation rates - attendance target is 90% or any improvement from the year before; the graduation target is 80% or any improvement from the previous year.
- test participation - At least 95% of students overall and within each subgroup must take the test.
What happens to a school if it does not meet AYP Targets?
Consequences for schools that do not meet all AYP targets depend on their AYP performance from the previous year.
- Schools making AYP both years receive the status of "Making AYP". Schools that make AYP the previous year but miss at least one target this year obtain the status of "Warning".
- School missing AYP for two years in a row will advance in status to School Improvement only if the same AYP Target(s) is missed in consecutive years. If different AYP targets are missed then the school will not "Make AYP" but will not advance in Status.