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Achievement Indicator - PSSA Proficiency, Grade 5

Introduction

This achievement indicator, PSSA Proficiency in Grade 5, examines our students’ performance on both the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics sections of the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) in fifth grade, annually in the spring of each school year. The ELA PSSA is a standards-based, criterion-referenced assessment that measures proficiency in the core academic standards of literacy at the respective grade level. The Math PSSA is a standards-based, criterion-referenced assessment that measures proficiency in the core academic standards of mathematics at the respective grade level. These standardized assessments are required of all students by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).  Students can receive a score of Advanced, Proficient, Basic, or Below Basic on the assessments. Results are shared with students, families, and teachers when released by PDE in the fall of the following school year.  For the purposes of this indicator, we measure how many of our students receive a score of Advanced or Proficient in each of these two sections of the PSSA. 

These broad-based, lengthy, state-required standardized assessments are much different from our local, brief assessments. As a result, these state assessments are more summative in nature. Summative assessments are used to ascertain what students have learned over a period of time rather than used to develop instruction to meet more short-term needs for students as is done with formative assessments. While shorter, locally administered formative assessments are often more helpful to educators looking to meet students’ short-term learning needs, summative assessments like the PSSA are helpful to get a big-picture sense of how larger populations are doing over time in terms of “achievement” (as defined by PDE, in this case). Furthermore, standardized test results are commonly reported in the media, as they allow for easier comparisons across school districts, adding to both their familiarity and their popularity.  For these reasons, it makes sense to include these indicators for how our students are faring on the bigger picture level, especially because this summative assessment is linked to the standards all districts in PA are required to adopt and follow.  Additionally, using Grade 5 PSSA results gives us a sense of how our students are situated as they move from elementary school to the middle school to begin sixth grade with other students from throughout the district.

Historical data show disparities between race/ethnicity groups. As with many standardized tests across the country, the percentages of Black and Hispanic students who earn a of Advanced or Proficient are significantly lower than the percentages of White and Asian students who achieve a score of Advanced or Proficient. Limited access to resources, lack of differentiated instruction, lack of culturally responsive teaching practices, and lack of access to rigorous coursework are some of the potential factors that may lead to disparities in test scores. Additionally, cultural bias in standardized tests may also be a contributing factor. Racial disparities in standardized test scores are complex and multifaceted, and addressing these disparities requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the underlying factors that contribute to them, which is what this action plan addresses.

Current Update: November 2023

Action Plan

English Language Arts
  • Employ a systematic, data-driven approach at the elementary level to identify students’ strengths and areas of need.  In addition to the district diagnostic reading assessment data gathered through DIBELS and MAP, other measures of student progress include curriculum-based assessments, spelling inventories, and formative data, such as running records and anecdotal classroom notes. These data are essential for determining students’ strengths and needs.
  • Engage building-level Data Analysis Response Teams (DART) to meet three times per year to identify students in need of reading interventions. These meetings include classroom teachers, reading specialists, principal, and counselor and focus on identifying appropriate reading instruction and interventions for each student. Interventions target specific areas of literacy development, such as teaching students academic language skills, vocabulary knowledge, phonics, phonological awareness, comprehension, and/or fluency.
  • Continue with professional development to ensure teachers are implementing best practices in reading instruction, including small group instruction.
Math
  • Employ a systematic, data-driven approach is employed at the elementary level to identify students’ strengths and areas of need.  Reflex Math Fact Fluency is an adaptive and individualized tool for helping students master basic math facts. Other measures of student progress include curriculum-based assessments and formative data, such as observation and anecdotal classroom notes. These data are essential for determining students’ strengths and needs.
  • Utilize Khan Academy as a resource to ensure students have access to individualized math support.
  • Continue with professional development to ensure teachers are implementing best practices in math instruction, including small group instruction for targeting students’ individual needs during math periods. Teachers have participated in training through the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, specifically targeting math instruction.
  • Provide math small group instruction during PIE (Practice, Intervention, Extension) time in the schedule.

Achievement Indicators - PSSA Proficiency, Grade 5

Click on the drop-down arrows to learn more about the PSSA English-Language Arts and Mathematics achievement indicators for Grade 5.