State test scores to be published next week, says Pa. education secretary

After months of waiting, the Pennsylvania Department of Education plans to release the results of next week’s 2021 state assessment, which is expected to shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on student loss.

In a letter sent Wednesday in response to lawmakers’ call for the publication of scores, Education Minister Noah Ortega announced that the results would be published in the Future Ready PA Index and on the department’s website on Tuesday. He said school principals would receive a preview of the results between Thursday and Monday, which in the past has led some districts to publish their own results ahead of schedule.

But Ortega warned lawmakers that lower-than-usual student participation in testing “largely due to problems with COVID-19” makes it difficult to determine whether the end results are “true, reliable and representative of true performance.” students “.

On Friday, House Speaker Brian Cutler, of Lancaster County, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Education Committee Kurt Sonny, R.Erie County, sent a letter to Ortega asking to publish the results of federal-mandated exams used for accountability.

They wrote that the test results weigh the decisions related to the state budget for 2022-2023 and the necessary changes in state education laws, “but without these tests we are at a great disadvantage in developing an education plan that provides targeted support to students and schools who may have been hit hard by the pandemic ”.

Also earlier this month, Cutler said that as a lawmaker, leader and father, he found the delay in issuing points unacceptable.

“We appreciate the PDE’s rapid response,” Cutler’s spokesman Mike Straub said in response to Ortega’s letter. “The letter confirms that the concerns expressed in the letter from Chairman Sonya and Speaker Cutler are justified.”

Ortega explained in his letter that the administration of state estimates for 2021 was not typical.

The Pennsylvania School Assessment System and Keystone exams are usually held in April or May, and scores are issued in September or October. However, last year the federal government allowed Pennsylvania to extend the trial administration period to Sept. 30 because of the pandemic.

This led to a delay in the calculation of exams. Another contributing factor was that they had to include waivers from the Keystone Exam provided in 2019-20 to get the results of these tests, which were given to students up to sixth grade but kept until they reached 11th grade. for federal accountability purposes, the secretary writes.

“These reasons explain the extra time spent on summarizing the results for the 2020-21 school year,” he said. “We would be happy to have the opportunity to discuss with you the results of the 2020-21 evaluation and the conclusions that can be drawn from these results in the coming days.”

Such an opportunity is likely to emerge when Ortega sits before the House Appropriations Committee on March 7 at a budget hearing. Senators will have the opportunity to delve into the test results with him on March 10 at a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ian Murphy can be contacted at jmurphy@pennlive.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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