English and reading scores for Pennsylvania students are still below pre-pandemic levels

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Student outcomes in English, including reading, in Pennsylvania are still well below pre-pandemic levels, the Pennsylvania Department of Education reports.

They are the latest results of standardized tests conducted last spring.

Each spring, students in grades three through eight take their PSSA tests at school. It is the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments to measure students’ English proficiency, including reading and math.

This year’s results in English have fallen for the second year in a row. Take third graders. Only 52 percent were proficient at their grade level, compared to nearly 62 percent in 2019 before the pandemic.

There are fewer students in each grade level in English today than there were three years ago.

English proficiency of PSSA students


3rd grade 52.3% 61.9%

4th grade 52.2% 63.6%

5th grade 53.6% 58.5%

6th grade 56.1% 63.0%

7th grade 57.2% 60.4%

8th grade 55.6% 57.9%

“Such values ​​are unacceptable,” said Dr. Linda Hippert versus KDKA’s Jon Delano on Tuesday.

Hippert is a professor at Point Park University and a former superintendent at South Fayette and Fox Chapel School. She says it’s unacceptable but understandable given the disruptions young children are suffering during the pandemic.

“A lot of them were traumatized by what happened,” Hippert said. “You missed a lot to learn. I know from talking to elementary school principals that when students came back to school in those early grades, they actually re-teached them how to behave in a classroom.”

Educators hoped the 2022 results would be better than 2021, but that was only true for the seventh and eighth graders. Math scores improved but still lagged.

English and reading results for students in Pa. still below pre-pandemic levels


dr Bob Scherrer, director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, which represents many local school districts, is optimistic but notes we’re still a long way from 100 percent competency.

“We hope that we can get back to pre-pandemic levels here in 2023, but we also know that these values ​​were not where we wanted them to be before the pandemic,” said Scherrer.

The latest findings come as Governor-elect Josh Shapiro is set to take office soon and promises to stop relying on standardized tests. Hippert says the validity of these tests is debatable.

Delano: “Is this a useful tool to measure student performance?”

Hippert: “It’s a question we’ve been debating for many, many, many years.”

Shapiro questions the tests. Last June he tweeted: “The future of our children should not be shaped by standardized tests. As governor, I will end reliance on standardized testing and focus on funding arts, history and civics.”

But federal law requires some testing to receive federal education funds, about 11 percent of state school funding.

“In order for states, and therefore districts, to receive federal funding, each school district must provide and conduct standardized testing,” says Hippert.

In a statement to KDKA, a Shapiro spokesman said the new governor would first consider sweeping test-opt-out legislation.

“Regarding standardized testing, the Shapiro-Davis administration will consider comprehensive test-opt-out legislation to give parents the power to opt out of standardized testing for their children. Pennsylvania currently only allows students to opt out for religious reasons.”

And second, the administration will look for effective alternatives to testing.

“The administration will look to research and national models that have proven effective, including alternatives to standardized tests, such as school assessments that focus on project-based and portfolio-based assessments that measure student progress through submitted papers, presentations, Reports and projects measure over time. “

Scherrer says it’s possible.

“We can look for other ways to measure student success and achievement,” he says. “I think there’s an opportunity for us to look at how we can holistically measure all the things that matter as we guide students through a K-12 education.”

It’s not yet clear what will get federal approval, but the new governor seems determined to make some changes when it comes to standardized testing.