There is bad news and worse news when it comes to standardized education testing in Pennsylvania.
Scores are down, and they’re going to get worse.
That’s what I took out of last night’s ‘Live From the Newsroom,’ our weekly live-stream community affairs broadcast. My thanks to Dan McGarry, assistant superintendent in Upper Darby, and Larry Feinberg, a member of the Haverford School Board and leader of the Keystone Education Coalition, for joining us and offering their views on the four most-feared letters in education.
Those would be PSSA.
Not many people know the numbers involving the controversial PSSA better than Feinberg. He remains convinced - and he presents a compelling argument - that we are going in the wrong direction, spending entirely too much time and money on testing that should be put toward early childhood education efforts.
McGarry carries some of the scars of a bruising battle in Upper Darby as the point man for a realignment plan that moved more resources toward dealing with the increased expectations of PSSA testing.
McGarry also noted how the testing works against big, diverse districts such as Upper Darby, where some schools can have as many as 40 subgroups.
Here’s why things are going to get worse: The thresholds to meet AYP go up each year. Next year the expectations are to have 89 percent of students tested proficient in math and 91 percent in reading.
Feinberg went so far as to say that in 2014 when all students are supposed to be proficient, instead he believes 100 percent of districts will instead fail.
The latest PSSA scores that were released last Friday showed eight of 15 school districts failed at least in some schools to hit their marks.
On Sunday we will take a closer look at schools where scores didn’t just go down, they went off a cliff.