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April 15, 2015

Hundreds of students opt out of PSSA

Education Standardized Testing
041515_PSSA Stock/AP

Passing the Keystone Exams won't be a high school graduation requirement until 2019.

Students in grades 3 through 8 are taking the Pennsylvania Standardized System of Assessment this week, which has been revised to reflect the Pennsylvania Core variant of the national Common Core standards. 

Among the biggest changes to the test is a writing section that has been added to the reading assessment, forming a new English language arts section that joins a modified math portion.  

In light of concerns about the PARCC test in New Jersey, similar resistance to the revised PSSA has cropped up in Pennsylvania. 

According to PhillyMag, the opt out movement is growing in Philadelphia, where the families of 486 students have already requested exemption from the test, compared to just 20 last year. Those numbers may continue to grow, according to Kelly Collings of the Caucus of Working Educators.

Statewide opt-outs will not be totaled and available until July, but last year the number was about 1,000 across Pennsylvania. 

Various reasons have been given for families deciding to opt out, but most identity fears about how the scores will be used and a belief that the test diverts class time that should be used differently. 

In order to opt out, parents must follow a protocol that involves writing a letter, visiting the school, reviewing test material , and signing a confidentiality agreement not to disclose PSSA content.