§ 4.51. State assessment system.
(a) The State assessment system shall be designed to serve the following purposes:
(1) Provide students, parents, educators and citizens with an understanding of student and school performance consistent with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425).
(2) Determine the degree to which school programs enable students to attain proficiency of academic standards under § 4.12 (relating to academic standards).
(3) Provide results to school entities for consideration in the development of strategic plans under § 4.13 (relating to strategic plans).
(4) Provide information to State policymakers including the General Assembly and the Board on how effective schools are in promoting and demonstrating student proficiency of academic standards.
(5) Provide information to the general public on school performance.
(6) Provide results to school entities based upon the aggregate performance of all students, for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and for those without an IEP.
(b) All PSSA instruments administered in Reading, Writing and Mathematics in grades 5, 8 and 11 will be standards-based and criterion referenced and include essay or open-ended response items in addition to other item formats. The proportion of type of items will vary by grade level. Neither State assessments nor academic standards under § 4.12 may require students to hold or express particular attitudes, values or beliefs. The Department will make samples of assessment questions, instrument formats and scoring guides available to the public after each administration of State assessments. The criteria for judging performance on State assessments are as follows:
(1) Performance on PSSA reading assessments shall be demonstrated by students responses to comprehension questions about age-appropriate reading passages and by their written responses to in-depth comprehension questions about the passages.
(2) Performance on PSSA mathematics assessments shall be demonstrated by students responses to questions about grade-appropriate content and by the quality of their responses to questions that require a written solution to a problem.
(3) Performance on PSSA writing assessments shall be demonstrated by the quality of students written compositions on a variety of topics and modes of writing.
(4) Performance on PSSA science assessments shall be demonstrated by students responses to grade appropriate content and by the quality of their responses to questions that demonstrate knowledge of each category of the standards for science and technology and environment and ecology.
(5) Levels of proficiency shall be advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. In consultation with educators, students, parents and citizens, the Department will develop and recommend to the Board for its approval specific criteria for advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels of performance.
(c) The Department will develop or cause to be developed PSSA assessments based on academic standards in Mathematics, Reading, Writing and Science under § 4.12 and contained in Appendix A. In developing assessments, the Department will consult with educators, students, parents and citizens regarding the specific methods of assessment. To ensure that information regarding student performance is available to parents and teachers, State assessments developed under this section must include student names. Individual test results shall be used in planning instruction only by parents, teachers, administrators and guidance counselors with a need to know based upon local board policy on testing and in reporting academic progress. The Department or other Commonwealth entities are prohibited from collecting individual student test scores, and may only collect aggregate test scores by school and district.
(d) The State assessments shall be administered annually and include assessments of the State academic standards in Mathematics and Reading at grades 38 and 11; in Writing at grades 5, 8 and 11; and in Science at grades 4, 8 and 11.
(e) Students not achieving at the proficient level in the administration of State assessments in grade 11 shall be provided one additional opportunity in grade 12 to demonstrate a proficient level on the PSSA assessments.
(f) The Department will develop or cause to be developed Keystone Exams as follows:
(1) Three assessments aligned with the Mathematics standards, contained in Appendix A, that assess the academic content traditionally included in Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry courses.
(2) Two assessments aligned with select Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening standards, contained in Appendix A, that assess academic content traditionally included in high school literature and composition courses.
(3) Three assessments aligned with select History and Civics and Government standards, contained in Appendix C, that assess content traditionally included in high school level American History, World History and Civics and Government courses.
(4) Two assessments aligned with select standards for Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology, contained in Appendix B, that assess academic content traditionally included in high school level Biology and Chemistry courses.
(5) If a Keystone Exam is offered as a graduation requirement, it shall be offered at least 3 times each year: once each in the fall, spring and summer. Keystone Exams shall be administered, reviewed and scored so that the scores for candidates for graduation are provided to schools no later than 10 calendar days prior to graduation. A school district or AVTS (including a charter school) may request that the Department approve alternative test administration and scoring time frames. The Department will publish guidelines and procedures for approving alternative test administration and scoring time frames on its web site. The guidelines will provide for approval of all requests unless the approval is contrary to standards of test validity and scoring.
(6) Students shall be permitted to retake any Keystone Exam, or Keystone Exam module, in which the student did not score proficient or above at the next available testing date.
(7) Each Keystone Exam will be designed in modules that reflect distinct, related academic content that is common to the traditional progression of coursework to allow students who do not score proficient or above to retake those portions of the test in which they did not score proficient or above.
(8) Keystone Exams shall be scored on a 100-point scale. When used to determine proficiency to meet high school graduation requirements, a Keystone Exam shall count for one-third of the final course grade. A Keystone Exam may be counted for more than one-third of the final course grade at the sole election of the school district or AVTS (including a charter school). A student must score advanced, proficient or basic on a Keystone Exam to receive points from the exam toward a final course grade.
(9) Levels of proficiency on Keystone Exams shall be set at the advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels. In consultation with the Performance Level Advisory Committee, the Department will develop and recommend to the Board for its approval, performance level descriptors and performance level cut scores for the Keystone Exams and any alternative assessments developed to assess students with disabilities as permitted by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Pub. L. No. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425). The Department will use widely-accepted psychometric procedures to establish the cut scores. Cut scores shall be presented at a public meeting of the Board for its review at least 2 weeks prior to scheduled Board action on the cut scores.
(10) The Department will provide guidance to school entities as to the appropriate accommodations school entities shall provide to students with disabilities, students who are gifted and English language learners, when appropriate.
(11) Keystone Exams in the following subjects will be developed by the Department and will be made available for voluntary use by school districts and AVTSs (including charter schools) in accordance with the following schedule:
School Year 2010-11 Algebra I Literature Biology Fall 2011 English Composition Algebra II Fall 2012 Geometry United States History Fall 2016 Chemistry Civics and Government World History
(12) The Department will seek to have the Keystone Exam system approved as the high school level single accountability system under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Upon approval by the United States Department of Education, the Algebra I and Literature exams will be used to determine adequate yearly progress at the high school level. The Biology Keystone Exam will be used as the high school level science assessment, which is not a factor in determining adequate yearly progress. If the Keystone Exam system receives approval as the high school level accountability measure, school districts and AVTSs (including charter schools) shall administer the Literature, Algebra I and Biology exams as end-of-course tests in the grade level in which students complete the relevant coursework.
(13) The 11th grade PSSA exams in Reading, Writing, Math and Science shall be discontinued upon implementation of the Keystone Exams as the approved assessment system under section 1111(b)(2)(C) of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20 U.S.C.A. § 6311(b)(2)(C)).
(g) The Board will authorize the expansion of the State assessment system through a revision of this chapter.
(h) The Department will implement provisions for security of the State assessment system, including the following provisions:
(1) Action by a professional employee or commissioned officer that is willfully designed to divulge test questions, falsify student scores or in some other fashion compromise the integrity of the State assessment system as determined by the school entity shall be subject to disciplinary action under the Professional Educator Discipline Act (24 P. S. § § 2070.1a2070.18a).
(2) Cheating by students or employees other than those covered in paragraph (1) shall be subject to disciplinary action by the school district.
(3) Cheating or breaches of assessment security shall be reported to the Secretary as soon as detected.
(i) The Secretary has the authority to establish guidelines for the administration of the State assessment system.
(j) The Secretary will report each September to the Board and the General Assembly information and pertinent data relating to the State assessment system. The Secretary will also provide each school entity information and pertinent data for the school entity and its students.
(k) Children with disabilities and children with limited English proficiency shall be included in the State assessment system as required by Federal law, with appropriate accommodations, when necessary. As appropriate, the Commonwealth will develop guidelines for the participation of children with disabilities in alternate assessments for those children who cannot participate in the State assessment as determined by each childs Individualized Education Program team under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and this part.
(l) The Department will establish a State Assessment Validation Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee shall advise the Department on its plans to conduct the validity study and review and provide feedback on its findings. The Department and the Committee will investigate the use of a certificate based on industry approved standards and performance on a NOCTI exam as an alternative pathway to graduation and will make a report and recommendation to the Board by January 10, 2011.
(m) At least once every 5 years, the Department will contract with a qualified, independent research organization to perform a validity study of the Keystone Exams using generally accepted education research standards. These studies will determine, at a minimum, the degree to which the Keystone Exams and performance level cut scores are valid for the purposes for which they are used; aligned with State academic standards; aligned with performance levels of other states; internationally benchmarked; and predict college and career success. In addition, all Keystone Exams, performance level descriptors and cut scores will be subject to the best available forms of content, criterion and consequential validation.
(n) If a student is unable to meet the requirements in § 4.24(b)(1)(iv)(A) (relating to high school graduation requirements), the student may supplement a Keystone Exam score through satisfactory completion of a project-based assessment as provided in subsection (o). Points earned through satisfactory performance on one or more project modules related to the Keystone Exam module or modules on which the student scored below proficient shall be added to the students highest Keystone Exam score. The total shall count as one-third of a students final course grade, as provided in subsection (f)(8).
(o) The Department will develop a project-based assessment system that is aligned with the modules for each of the ten Keystone Exams. The project-based assessment system shall be administered by schools and scored by regional panels composed of teachers, principals and curriculum specialists assembled by the Department. The regional review panels shall score student projects according to scoring protocols and rubrics developed by the Department. Students may qualify to participate in one or more project-based assessments if the student has met all of the following conditions:
(1) Has taken the course.
(2) Was unsuccessful in achieving a score of proficient on the Keystone Exam after at least two attempts.
(3) Has met the districts attendance requirements for the course.
(4) Has participated in a satisfactory manner in supplemental instructional services under § 4.24(i).
The provisions of this § 4.51 amended under sections 2603-B and 2604-B of the Public School Code of 1949 (24 P. S. § § 26-2603-B and 2604-B).
The provisions of this § 4.51 amended February 15, 2008, effective February 16, 2008, 38 Pa.B. 872; amended January 8, 2010, effective January 9, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 240. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (332285) to (332286) and (335409).
This section cited in 22 Pa. Code § 4.4 (relating to general policies); 22 Pa. Code § 4.21 (relating to elementary education: primary intermediate levels); 22 Pa. Code § 4.24 (relating to high school graduating requirements); and 22 Pa. Code § 14.105 (relating to personnel).
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