The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is a statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) even with accommodations. By administering the PASA to students with severe disabilities, schools achieve compliance with federal laws and the Pennsylvania School Code that require that all students participate in the statewide accountability system.
The PASA is an individually administered test given each spring to students by their teacher or another certified Test Administrator who knows the student well. Test administration can be adapted so that even students with the most severe disabilities can participate in the assessment and receive a score. The test, administered to students in the equivalent of grades 3 through 8 and 11, consists of 25 test items aligned with reading standards; 25 test items aligned with math standards; and, for students in grades 4, 8, and 11, approximately 25 test items aligned with science standards. Each test item represents an authentic, relevant, and age-appropriate skill related to reading, mathematics, or science. There are three levels of difficulty within each grade for all three content areas. Level A contains the least complex reading-, math-, or science-related skills. Level B consists of intermediate skills, and Level C consists of the most complex skills. Like the PSSA, the PASA is designed to take a snapshot of student's typical performance on a small sample of academic skills derived from the PA Academic Standards.
Student performance is video recorded and submitted for scoring to the contractor at the University of Pittsburgh. Teams of scorers (comprised of practicing teachers, administrative school personnel, and college/university faculty) are trained to use a scoring rubric to evaluate student performance. Once scoring has been completed, aggregated results are submitted to the state for inclusion with scores from the PSSA. In addition, PASA reports are generated at the state, home district, service provider, and student levels.