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)

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.

PDE Seeks PAPSA Input Towards Expanding Availability of Support Services for Students and Families (May 16, 2020)

As PDE seeks to expand availability of support services for students and families during the COVID-19 response efforts, it is are exploring additional opportunities to leverage existing and future partnerships with graduate level interns and recent graduates in the fields of social work, school psychology, and school counseling. PDE is collaborating with universities to develop a platform that allows students to access mental health professionals and graduate interns over the summer in an effort to maintain relationships with schools and ease transitions into the 2020-2021 school year.  PDE$ is asking PAPSA members to complete a brief survey regarding current need and interest in utilizing recent graduates and interns to support mental wellness and intervention services and supports within the school community by going to the Expanding Availability of Support Services for Students and Families survey. Questions and comments should be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s emergency response account at: RA-EDEmergencyResponse@pa.gov

Act 13 of 2020 Mandate Waiver Request Process (May 15, 2020)

Signed into law by Governor Wolf on March 27, 2020, Act 13 of 2020 allows the governing bodies of school entities to request that the Secretary of Education waive certain Pennsylvania School Code provisions, regulations of the State Board of Education, and standards of the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), if the waiver directly relates to the school entity’s staffing needs or impacts its instructional program or operations for the 2019-20 school year as a result of the Pandemic of 2020. Waiver requests and approvals apply only to the 2019-20 school year.

To learn more, click here.