Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests get closer


Zakary Hicks

Try to remember it all! Eighth graders Nicholas Ray and Logan Wilt are practicing and reviewing for the science PSSA’s. Since the beginning of the year, seventh and eighth grade have been preparing for the standardized tests.

Zakary Hicks, Reporter

The seventh and eighth grade PSSA’s are here.  These standardized tests include reading and mathematics for seventh and eighth grade, writing for eighth grade and science for eighth grade.

These tests require early planning.

“There just never seems to be enough time to get in all the different materials and testing strategies that I make lists of during the summer,” seventh grade teacher Mary Dodge said.

The students have opinions on the test.

“Personally, I think they are way too long and irrelevant,” eighth grader Kaden Daniel said.

Although the students aren’t able to see it yet, the tests do actually mean something for them.

“What it needs to mean for the students is an opportunity to show how all the hard work they have done this year has really made improvements in the capability of everyone. It is an opportunity to show-off the many skills that students have developed all year long,” Dodge said.

The PSSA’s also have a meaning for teachers.

“For teachers it is time to see if all the planning, grading, lesson preparation, teaching days that went off absolutely great or not so great has been worth all the effort. I think most teachers are in the field to help students learn and improve, this time is the awakening of how well the students learned and improved. It also provides a guide for how to prepare for next year, what changes need to be made and what ideas need to have more development,” Dodge said.

Only eighth graders have to take the science PSSA’s.

“I am nervous for the science PSSA’s because based on the science we have learned this year, they are going to be very hard,” Daniel said.

Eighth grade science teachers have to prepare their students for the science PSSAs.

“These tests give me another opportunity to evaluate the students.  It is not a timely evaluation or assessment, so in terms of my classroom it does not really affect it much, however we do a great deal in terms of curriculum and make sure we are covering materials that are tested,” eighth grade teacher Sam Solomon said.

The students aren’t the only ones that have to prepare, and although Dodge doesn’t teach a tested subject, she still helps and prepares her students for the TDA questions.

“I never feel ready for the tests because they carry high importance in the future placement of students. I always wonder if I have done enough to get my students ready,”  Dodge said.

The science PSSA’s are only taken every four years by students, which might not be effective.

“I think it would be more productive to take the test every year, that way you could track their growth more,” Solomon said.

In the end it all depends on if the students are ready.

“I believe that I am ready, but also need more preparation,” Daniel said.

Sometimes the students think they are ready when there is still room for improvement.

“I also believe that many students have an over-confidence about how prepared they are or are not for these high-stakes tests. I notice that at the beginning of the year when I do practice TDA’s the students try so much harder in perfecting their own writing when compared to the practice times in the spring. This always worries me that the same thing might happen on the actual tests,” Dodge said.

This year’s tests stand out over other years.

“This year is even more stressful because our school really needs to demonstrate just how great our students are in language arts and math. Everyone has put forth so much work to improve their skills,” Dodge said.

The students now have a chance to show what they have learned.

“I really wish all our students would really rally to show all that they know,” Dodge said.

The test is just like a basketball game.

“It is like doing thousands of layups in the practices and now it is the final four of the big game.  Time to put the ball through the hoop everyone!” Dodge said.

The English Language Arts PSSA’s start April 15 and end April 26.  The mathematics and science PSSAs start April 29 and end May 3.