PDE Releases Guidance on Keystone Exams (May 21, 2020)

The PA Department of Education (PDE) has released guidance on the use of Keystone Exams related to the context of the current 2019-20 school year, federal assessment and accountability requirements, ESSA report card provisions, graduation requirements and moving into the 2020-21 school year. The guidance was released to address the various impacts related to the cancellation of this spring’s administration of Keystone Exams.
The guidance also addresses upcoming Keystone testing windows. The summer Keystone Exam window will be delayed until September 28 through October 2, 2020 to accommodate schools in planning for make-up exams. Students affected by the cancellation of the exams during spring 2020 may choose to make-up one or more Keystone Exams in the delayed summer window, the winter testing window (December 1, 2020 through January 15, 2021), or the spring testing window (May 17-28, 2021). 

Click here to access PDE guidance on Keystone Exams

Click here to access PDE guidance on the Future Ready PA Index (Fall 2020)

CDC Releases Document that Includes Return to School Guidance (May 21, 2020)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a document titled CDC Activities and Initiatives Supporting the COVID-19 Response and the President’s Plan for Opening America Up Again. Appendix F of the document (from pages 40-52) is of particular interest to schools and childcare providers.

To access the document on the PAPSA website, click here or go to: http://papsa-web.org/wp-content/uploads/CDC-Return-to-School-Guidance-May-2020.pdf.

PDE Provides LEAs with CDTs for Student Use at Home (May 18, 2020)

On May 18, 2020, PDE Deputy Secretary Matt Stem notified LEAs via a PennLink titled Availability of the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) for use by students at home that PDE is providing the Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT) as an optional additional resource for their Continuity of Education Plan.  The CDT is a set of online tools designed to provide diagnostic information to guide instruction and provide support to students and teachers. It is aligned with the content assessed on the PSSA and Keystone exams.  PDE anticipates that this option will be available through the reopening of schools in 2020. The memo states that this at-home testing option will allow students to access the CDT from a “public” browser without having it installed on their computers or being configured to their school district’s central office services network. The test-setup tasks that teachers/school assessment coordinators routinely complete for classroom administrations of the CDT are the same for the at-home administrations. Test tickets (login credentials) will be distributed directly to the students by school staff.  Teachers will have access to all CDT data/reports from the at-home administrations as usual.  An overview of the at-home testing option and a guidance document for parents/guardians can be accessed from the following links (or directly from DRC’s INSIGHT Portal under General Information >> Documents >> 2019-2020 Classroom Diagnostic Tools >> Memos/Documents).

At-Home Testing Overview: https://pa.drcedirect.com/Documents/Unsecure/Doc.aspx?id=32997b8e-13cf-42f0-9c2c-af1689d89323

Parent/Guardian Guidance: https://pa.drcedirect.com/Documents/Unsecure/Doc.aspx?id=cc242168-e06e-44d1-9fd4-ef859a519dab

All CDTs (Full and Diagnostic Category) are available for use.  However, it is highly recommended to only have students take the Diagnostic Category CDTs at this time. Students and their parents/guardians may benefit from a much shorter testing experience using the Diagnostic Category CDTs that are aligned to current instructional content. The shorter, more focused testing will still provide teachers and administrators with the same level of reporting and resources to adjust instruction and planning during distance learning.Those interested in using CDT for the first time, contact PDE at RA-EDEMERGENCYRESPONSE@pa.gov.

Sec. Rivera Expects Students to Return to School in the Fall (May 17, 2020)

On May 11, 2020, PA Education Secretary Pedro Rivera, testifying in a PA Senate committee hearing, said that he expects students to go back to school in the fall, and that the PA Department of Education (PDE) will provide guidance in the coming weeks to help prepare staff to return to school buildings. Secretary Rivera acknowledged that schools will need additional aid to address challenges posed by school closures and the need to contain the COVID-19 virus.

Secretary Rivera also resisted the notion that students might not return to school buildings in the fall. Instead, he said that PDE intends to reopen schools with an emphasis on keeping students and staff safe, which will likely mean changes that involve following state PA Department of Health guidelines and recommendations.

CDC Issues Recommendations To Guide Reopening Of Schools (May 17, 2020)

On May 14, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a set of documents designed to provide guidance on how schools and child care centers could begin the process of reopening in the face of the coronavirus. The CDC recommends that all workplaces hold off on reopening unless they are ready to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness, including those 65 and older and people of all ages with underlying medical conditions. It also recommends intense cleaning and sanitizing procedures, hand-washing, wearing a cloth face covering, and social distancing. The documents also advise employers to encourage workers to stay home if they feel sick.

CDC also recommends that schools and child care centers  should not reopen unless they are able to implement coronavirus screening protocols, evaluating employees and children daily for symptoms and potential past exposures to COVID-19.

The CDC also asks to first and foremost consider whether adherence with the agency’s reopening guidelines is consistent with state and local stay-at-home orders.

To access CDC recommendations for reopening schools click here.

To access CDC recommendations for reopening child care centers click here.