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When Parents Receive Test Scores: Talking to Your Student

This past spring, year two of the new PSSA was administered in Pennsylvania’s classrooms, grades 3 through 8, in English Language Arts and Mathematics. This assessment was the second PSSA to be fully-aligned to the more rigorous PA Core Standards, which the State Board of Education adopted in September 2013.

These new standards are aimed at better preparing Pennsylvania students for success after high school, specifically to be college or career ready when they graduate. It is important to remember, and to explain to students, that the transition to the new, more rigorous standards will take time. This year’s results are meant to establish a baseline to measure future growth, and that student performance will grow as they become more familiar with the new standards.

It is also important to help your student understand how he or she performed on the assessments – both strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Some key points you may want to emphasize with your student as you look at their scores together:

  • The standards for learning have changed. They are more demanding and set higher expectations.
  • The test has changed. The test questions are aligned to the standards, and many of the questions are more complex than in previous years.
  • Look at the test scores together.  Ask your child to share how he or she feels about the tests and whether the questions were challenging.
  • Explain to your student if test scores were not as high as expected, to not be discouraged.  Remember that the test was harder this year, and with time and continued effort on your part, he or she will be able to meet new expectations.
  • Parents and teachers can help students think about what they will need to do to be successful while they are in school and after high school.  Remember that these tests help schools prepare students for life after graduation.  Whether there are a few years until a student graduates from high school or many, these tests help schools and teachers make sure you are ready for whatever direction you choose.
  • Encourage your student to continue to work hard in school, and let the teacher know when he or she needs help.
UPDATED 9/15/16