Erie Vital Signs

Student Achievement: PSSA Results

Recent Performance

This trend is negative or needs improvement.

PSSA results vary widely across school districts, and some are doing very well. But for the 2011-12 academic year the county-wide percentage of third grade students who were graded “Advanced” fell in both math and reading, and the percentage who were graded “Below Basic” rose in both math and reading. We clearly need to do better.

7.7% of third-graders rated “Below Basic” in math and 18.7% in reading, county wide. These were up from 6.2% and 15.9% respectively in the 2010-11 school year. The good news is that far larger percentages were graded “Advanced”: 40.5% in math, and 22.8% in reading. But these were down from 45.6% and 25.6% respectively in the 2010-11 school year.

The 2011-12 Erie numbers also compared unfavorably with the statewide results:
-Math Advanced: Erie 40.5%, PA 43.6%
-Math Below Basic: Erie 7.7%, PA 6.6%
-Reading Advanced: Erie 22.8%, PA 27.2%
-Reading Below Basic: Erie 18.7%, PA 15.9%

The Basics

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests are given to children in order to decide if their knowledge is up to the state’s benchmark standards. Students are tested in different subjects in different grades. The Erie Vital Signs indicators include mathematics and reading scores of 3rd grade students in Erie County. This indicator reports data for each of the 13 school districts in the county. They tell the percent of students who met standards to be classified as Advanced, Proficient, Basic, or Below Basic for each subject.

Why It's Important

The PSSA scores provide a statewide standard by which students—and school districts—may be judged based on their performance. Education is crucial to the future of individuals and the region as a whole, so measuring performance of our schools is crucial to spotting potential problems—and opportunities.

The Details

From the PA Department of Education’s website:
In 1999, Pennsylvania adopted academic standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening and for Mathematics. These standards identify what a student should know and be able to do at varying grade levels. School districts possess the freedom to design curriculum and instruction to ensure that students meet or exceed the standards' expectations.

The annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) is a standards-based, criterion-referenced assessment used to measure a student's attainment of the academic standards while also determining the degree to which school programs enable students to attain proficiency of the standards. Every Pennsylvania student in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 is assessed in reading and math. Every Pennsylvania student in grades 5, 8 and 11 is assessed in writing. Every Pennsylvania student in grades 4 and 8 is assessed in science.

In compliance with §4.51(b)(4) of the PA School Code the State Board of Education approved, "specific criteria for advanced, proficient, basic and below basic levels of performance."

The Nitty-Gritty Details

Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) website(pssa)/1190526
PSSA history and performance descriptors


For each of Math and Reading:
-Below Basic

Peer Areas

This indicator is provided for the 13 individual school districts in Erie County. No data are available for the 13 typical peer metro areas since the PSSA test is Pennsylvania-specific.




Pennsylvania Department of Education, PSSA test results

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