PSSA Assessment – Grade 3 to 8

The Pennsylvania Department of Education launched the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) in 1992. The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test is an integral part of the Pennsylvania state education system. The results from this test are useful to determine the child’s progress in important academic areas such as reading, math, and science. Furthermore, the PSSA test is required by state law and is an important metric to measure the effectiveness of the school district in comparison to other subject based grade level standards. All students from public schools, charters, and cyber charters are required to take the test.

Who will take the PSSA test?

Students in grades 3-8 take PSSAs in the spring of each school year in the areas of reading and math. Students in fourth and eighth grade are also assessed in science by taking a PSSA exam. 

A 3rd grader will generally be tested for 3.5 hours in English in four sections over a one-week period and in math for two hours and 10 minutes in three sections in a second one-week period, for a total of five hours and 40 minutes.

Fourth graders are tested for four hours and 20 minutes in English, two hours and 10 minutes in math and one hour and 40 minutes in science, for a total of eight hours and 10 minutes.

Testing dates are prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education

Schools will send a letter to all parents/guardians on the PSSA testing.

PSSA Test Orientation to Kids

Prepare students for Pennsylvania’s state test with the following essential tips:

1) Provide Online Testing Environment Practice: Integrate online tools, keyboarding, and embed online testing strategies throughout the school year.

2) Support Content Mastery: Ensure students understand the content, topics, and learning standards needed to do well on the test. Lean on formative assessments.

3) PSSA Practice Tests: Give students practice tests, so they get an idea of what to expect, and you, as the instructor, can identify where you can do your best to support your students.

PSSA tests are a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. English language arts tests assess Pennsylvania’s writing and language standards. They consist of passage-based and stand-alone multiple-choice questions, evidence-based selected responses, passage-based short answers, and text-dependent analysis. 

Download Sample PSSA Question Paper

The PSSA tests are conducted both using the paper mode and the online mode, but the online tests are promoted by schools because they increase accuracy and reduce administrative work for schools.

Criticism of the PSSA

The stakes are high for schools to do well on the PSSA assessment. And, these high stakes have led some school administrators and teachers to cheat by changing student answer sheets to boost student test scores.

Critics also say there is little evidence that tests like the PSSA improve learning outcomes and argue that the time involved would be better used for instruction. They point out that student results don’t arrive until after the school year is over, too late for teachers to adjust their approach with those students.

Hope this is useful, thank you.

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