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March 19, 2020

Pennsylvania cancels PSSA, Keystone Exams due to coronavirus pandemic

Annual standardized tests were scheduled for the spring, but closures caused by COVID-19 have disrupted instruction at schools

Education PSSA
PSSA Canceled Coronavirus Pixabay/

Pennsylvania students will not take the PSSA and Keystone Exams in 2020 as a result of closures caused by the coronavirus, according to the state department of education. The annual tests were scheduled to begin in April and May.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has canceled this year's PSSA and Keystone Exams as schools statewide remain closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said Thursday the standardized tests will not be completed due to the extreme circumstances.

"Our school communities are operating within unprecedented conditions," Rivera said. "Schools are making extraordinary efforts to remain connected to students and families, to provide food service and to put appropriate systems in place to continue student learning. Assessments should not be the focus of school leaders right now."

The PSSA, administered annually to students in grades 3-8, was scheduled to begin on April 20. The Keystone Exams, taken by high schools students, were set to take place starting May 11.

Classroom instruction time is reserved each year to help students prepare for the standardized tests, but the closures have cut into curriculum and left educators with an unclear picture for the resumption of normal activities. 

With kids out of schools across the country, local districts have struggled to come up with learning plans that meet federal and state mandates for equity. 

The School District of Philadelphia halted online instruction this week after receiving guidance that improvised learning programs were not meeting strict standards to ensure all students had access.

Rivera said waivers will be submitted by the state to the U.S. Department of Education to account for this year's canceled testing.

The department continues to provide guidance to school districts through a dedicated website for COVID-19 planning.