The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, § 300.160 Participation in assessments, provides that a State must ensure that all children with disabilities are included in all general State and district-wide assessment programs, including assessments described under section 1111 of the ESEA, 20 U.S.C. 6311, with appropriate accommodations and alternate assessments, if necessary, as indicated in their respective IEPs.
In Pennsylvania, the PA Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) serves as the statewide alternate assessment for federal accountability. The PASA is administered in grades 3-8 and 11 in ELA and Math and grades 4, 8 and 11 in Science. The PASA is intended for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities - which is about 1% of the total tested population.
The PASA is aligned to grade-level standards and alternate eligible content (AEC). AEC is reduced in depth, breadth, and complexity. In order to participate in the PASA, students must be deemed eligible by the IEP Team. The IEP team should review participation in statewide assessments annually and determine whether the student will participate in the general assessment (known as the PSSA or Keystone Exam) or the PASA. The decision is based upon the IEP Team’s ability to answer “YES” to all six PASA eligibility criteria. Decisions to participate in the alternate assessment should not be determined by an administrator, be based upon anticipated poor performance on the general assessment, or upon disability category. Students eligible for the PASA should be receiving instruction aligned to the AEC, and the IEP must include standards-aligned goals and objectives.
Announcement: All Pennsylvania assessments have been cancelled for 2020. Click here for a Frequently Asked Questions document issued by the Bureau of Special Education on the PASA.