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Everything you need to prepare for PSSA and Keystone testing

Everything you need to prepare for PSSA and Keystone testing

Check out the updated version of this post here.

With the PSSA and Keystone Exams less than a month away, we know that you’re working hard to prepare yourself, your students, and their parents for what to expect. Testing is tough—there’s no way around it. So, we’re hoping to help lighten the load (even if only a little bit) by curating all the best testing resources we could get our hands on.

Pennsylvania Testing Materials from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

Did you know that the PDE offers resources to help you get ready for 2018 assessments? First, check out a list of testing dates for the PSSA.

  • Getting Ready for Pennsylvania State Assessments - Learn about the basics of the PSSA and Keystone Exams, including general information of each test, testing windows, an overview of statewide assessments, and resources and tools for the PSSA and Keystone Exams.
  • Frequently Asked Questions - Check out the frequently asked questions for the PSSA exam.
  • Text-Dependent Analysis Toolkit - Responding to text-dependent analysis questions requires students to “draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.” Watch video modules sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist educators in understanding and deepening their knowledge of text-dependent analysis questions.


What do I need to know about the new design?

  • Eliminates one of three test sessions
  • Shortens testing time by 48 minutes
  • Preserves content blueprint percentages
  • Maintains the number of points coming from open-ended questions
  • Ensures the level of rigor is not decreased
  • Maintains sufficient points in each reporting category to continue strength profile reporting
  • Preserves math reporting
  • Measures same construct; no impact on the Performance Level Descriptors


What are the best ways to ensure that my students are ready for Pennsylvania testing?

It’s safe to say that testing means something a little different to everybody. For teachers and administrators, testing procedures and academic understanding come first. For parents and students, trying to calm those testing nerves might be priority number one. In any case, we’ve organized testing tips and tricks for the many different groups who have testing on the brain.

For District Administrators

There comes a point when a district has done all it can to prepare students for end-of-year testing, but that time isn’t the morning before the test. There are many things district personnel can do right up until test day to ensure that students have the best chance of success. Check out these 8 last minute steps.

For Teachers

We know there are always many ways to help students. Here are ten tips to make sure that they have every chance to succeed!

For Parents
Send home a test-taking checklist for parents and students to review together, such that come test day, learners feel ready to do their best. Grab one for elementary or secondary students.

For Students
Supporting students through test season often means helping them manage the stress associated with this time of year. Dig into our 6 Tips for Teachers to Help Students Manage Stress.

Any other resources I should be using or know about?

Here are a few other resources that will help make sure that you have a successful testing season.

5 Proven Ways to Get the Most Out of Practice Testing
The old adage “practice makes perfect” is a familiar turn of phrase for a reason. Ensure that you’re getting the most out of every minute your students are spending on practice testing.

3 Ways Online Practice Can Support Your Test Prep Program
As you are considering different options to ensure that your students have achieved standards proficiency, it’s critical that you have a program that’s aligned to the PA Core Standards. Consider this and other benefits of using an online program.

Start your FREE trial of Study Island
A recent study, validated by Marzano Research, confirms that when students spend just 30 minutes a week practicing in Study Island, they achieve significant academic gains. Check out the programs offered in Pennsylvania.