PSSA Testing


It’s the week of apple juice and Nutrigrain bars. Juniors are required by the state of Pennsylvania to take the PSSAs to show accountability for learning certain benchmarks in a given curriculum. As spring of junior year is considered one of the most difficult times with these tests as well as SATs and AP tests, juniors often feel overwhelmed. Students often wonder if trying on the PSSAs is even worth it. However, pushing through these stressful months as students will prevent a decreasing GPA and possible retesting.

Guidance counselor Mrs. Kuhn emphasizes the impact the standardized test has on students. “Students need to be aware that GLSD assigns grades based on the PSSAs on the first quarter of senior year report card,” said Kuhn. An “advanced” score receives an A, a “proficient” score receives a B, a “basic” score receives a C and “below basic” can receive a D or an F. If a student scores fifty points below the lowest “below basic”, he or she will have an F in that section when report cards are handed out.  

“I’m going to try hard on the PSSAs because it counts towards my grade and graduation,” said junior Ashley Herman. She has been preparing for the PSSAs in her math class for a few weeks.

Kuhn describes further motives to give a best effort on the PSSAs. “You may be asked to take a retest during the fall of your senior year if you do poorly,” said Kuhn. This past fall, about twenty five students had to retake some part of the PSSAs, which provides further motivation to do well.

This year, as with all previous years, juniors are required to take math, reading, writing, and science tests for the PSSAs. However, these tests are in the process of being phased out by the state of Pennsylvania. By 2014, the PSSAs will be gone and the Keystone exams will be the dominant standardized test.

The reason for the change is due to the Keystone’s subject oriented test. For example, students taking algebra II would take the algebra II Keystone exams at the end of the year. This would be advantageous not only for students in that subject, as the material is fresh in their minds, but also for students in different math courses. These students would have the benefit of being exempt from an exam with questions they are out of practice with.

As for this year’s standardized statewide exam, the PSSAs will begin the second week of March and last through April 25. Teachers began preparing their students for these tests in February. Mrs. Pompelia gave each of her junior students a large review packet as an overview for what to expect on the test.

“This year, our school is required by state to have a 78 percent proficiency rate in math, which is higher than last year,” said Pompelia. An 81 percent proficiency rate is required for reading. She feels it is essential for the district and for students to succeed on the test. “On a more personal level for students, the tests are reflected on transcripts,” she said.

Senior Bryan Brasile offers his advice for the PSSAs by explaining the impact the test can have on students. “You need to take them seriously because they are not as easy as people think they are. They can also negatively affect your GPA so you need to give it your best effort,” said Brasile. Therefore, adequate preparations are wise, including reviewing math problems and challenging vocabulary terms.

Kuhn recommends a good night sleep, as with any test, and stresses the importance of coming to school on the days of the test. “You have to take it no matter what, so take it in your homeroom, because if you’re absent during test days, you have to make it up in guidance,” she said.

To all juniors taking the test soon, remember to bring number two pencils and the accepted calculators on test days and get enough rest!