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September 02, 2015

PSSA test scores fall in School District of Philadelphia

Educators expected decline due to more difficult testing standards

School District of Philadelphia headquarters Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

The School District of Philadelphia headquarters on North Broad Street.

The School District of Philadelphia showed sharp performance declines on the 2014-15 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams, according to results released Wednesday.

Only 32 percent of district students performed at proficient or advanced levels on the English exams. Mathematics performance was worse — 17 percent reached proficiency.

Those numbers marked a steep decline from 2013-14, when 42 percent of district students scored proficient or advanced in English and 45 percent reached those levels in math.

Yet, educators across the state expected student performance to decline because the tests reflected the more rigorous Common Core standards for the first time.

A statewide analysis conducted earlier this year by Newsworks, using preliminary data, found proficiency rates in grades three through eight declined by an average of 35.4 percentage points in math. Proficiency rates fell by an average of 9.4 percentage points in English.

All students are tested for math and English in grades three through eight. Some 11th graders also are tested.

Among School District of Philadelphia students in grades three through eight, those in seventh and eighth grade fared the best on English tests, with 35 percent reaching proficiency. The district's fourth-grade students scored the worst - only 28 percent reached proficiency.

In math, the third-grade students performed the best, with 19 percent reaching proficiency. Only 15 percent of eighth-graders hit that mark, the lowest among the grades tested.

To see a complete breakdown of the district's PSSA scores, including performance levels at particular schools, click here.