BSE Memo on PASA 1% Threshold and Timelines Released by PDE (September 7, 2023)

On September 7, 2023, Carole L. Clancy, Director of the PDE Bureau of Special Education, disseminated a PennLink memo titled Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) and the 1% Threshold Justification: Tiered System of Oversight and Monitoring of LEAs. The memo states that the PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education (BSE) must meet regulatory requirements of the US Department of Education (USDE) relative to participation of students with disabilities in statewide systems of assessment for accountability. To meet requirements, the BSE implements the following tiered system of oversight and monitoring of local education agencies (LEAs). Regulatory requirements, the tiered system of oversight and monitoring rationale, and required actions of LEAs are included here. Adherence to the guidelines and timelines set forth by the BSE are required.

Regulatory Requirements
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to ensure participation of students with disabilities in statewide assessments in two ways:

  • Requires that no more than 1 percent of the total tested population of students in each grade and subject participate in an alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards.
  • Requires that 95 percent of students, including students with disabilities, participate in statewide assessments.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) requires states to ensure that all children with disabilities are included in general assessments with accommodations or alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards. IDEA requires states to develop a State Performance Plan (SPP) which describes how states are improving educational outcomes for students with disabilities and complying with the IDEA. Student participation and performance on statewide assessments (SPP Indicator 3) includes a 95 percent participation target for students with IEPs.

Tiered System of Oversight and Monitoring Rationale and Procedure
The BSE developed the three-tiered system of oversight and monitoring as required by ESSA to monitor the participation rates of students in the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). The submission process for LEAs has been updated this year to include all three tiers in one form/survey submission. The new process allows the LEA to review the previous school year’s PASA participation data prior to enrolling students for testing this year, and ensure only those students who meet all 6 of PA’s Eligibility Criteria are enrolled to take the PASA.

What is the “1% Threshold”? How are the 1 Percent and 95 Percent participation rates calculated?
The 1% threshold is the term used by the BSE to identify those LEAs who exceed the 1 percent participation rate allowance per ESSA. The calculation is explained during annual training. LEAs will continue to provide their anticipated participation rate for the 2023-24 school year. However, an LEAs identification in tiered monitoring will be based upon the LEAs actual participation rate data from the 2022-23 assessment cycle. BSE will provide each LEA with their 2022-23 participation rate data and tier status.

1% Threshold Tiered System of Oversight and Monitoring Timeline and Resources
The evaluation of the 1% threshold is based on all students belonging to the LEA, including students who are educated in out-of-district placements. The Special Education administrator for every LEA will receive two separate email communications from BSE in September.

  • LEA Special Education Administrators will receive the first email with LEA’s 2023 testing data and tier designation on September 18,2023. The data will include the LEA’s 1 percent PASA participation rate, as well as the overall 95 percent participation rate for students with disabilities (i.e., Pennsylvania System School Assessment, PASA, and Keystone Exams).
  • The second email will be sent to the LEA Special Education Administrator on September 20, 2023. This email will include a personalized survey link to submit the required responses for the tier they have been identified. All survey responses are due to BSE by October 16, 2023.

Each tier includes more extensive questions and data review within the survey. Survey questions will be dependent on the tier designation. LEAs in Tier 3 will engage in an intensive needs review with BSE personnel in addition to completing the survey. A list of LEAs who anticipate exceeding the threshold in the 2023-24 assessment cycle will be made publicly available on the PDE website, in accordance with 34 CFR 200.6 (c)(3) regulations. Any LEA that exceeds the 1% threshold may be subject to further review by BSE.

The updated 2023-24 PASA 1% Threshold Tiered System of Oversight and Monitoring form can be accessed on the Bureau of Special Education Assessment page here: ESSA 1.0 Percent Threshold Justification Requirements (

Special Education leaders can access full information and training on this requirement by viewing “2023-24 PASA Getting Ready: What Special Education Administrators Need to Know about PASA DLM Participation and 1 percent Compliance Requirements”. This asynchronous webinar will be posed by September 8, 2023 on the BSE Assessment page: Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA).

Questions on this requirement can be directed to Lisa Hampe at [email protected] and/or Lisa Hauswirth at [email protected].

Please contact [email protected] if you had a recent change in the assigned Special Education Administrator for your LEA to ensure the email notifications are sent to the correct individual.