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Extra dose of testing planned this year

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The busy schedule of standardized tests in the School District gets even busier this year - particularly for grades 3, 5, and 8 - with several major changes to the testing routine.

First up is the state’s writing assessment, which will be given to grades 6 and 9 beginning October 7. (Eleventh graders also take the writing test, but not until February.)

Later in October, a new standardized test will debut in Philadelphia, between October 21 and November 1. The TerraNova test - in reading, math, and science - is being given in place of the SAT-9 test, which had been administered in Philadelphia every spring since 1996.

Like the SAT-9, the new test is "nationally normed," allowing comparisons between Philadelphia students and others around the country. There is also a version of the TerraNova test for Spanish speakers, known as the Supera.

Also new this year is the decision that students in the testing program be tested every year in order to follow students' progress from year to year. The District will give the TerraNova to grades 3-10 in the fall.

District officials promise that the results on the TerraNova are available from its maker, CTB McGraw Hill, in 28 days. Slow turnaround on individual student results from the SAT-9 meant that the testing results came over the summer. Parents got results in the fall, in reports that many complained were difficult to decipher.

The fall TerraNova results will be used to establish a baseline for monitoring test scores in the District. To measure progress over the course of this year, the District will administer the TerraNova test again in the spring (April 21 to 30), this time in grades 2 to 10. District officials say that in future years, TerraNova testing will be just once a year in the spring.

Once again next spring, the District will also administer the state’s PSSA exam, which is given in reading and math. PSSA testing dates are March 25 to April 9. Third graders will be included in that test for the first time, as well as grades 5, 8, and 11. The state will also be introducing a science PSSA, which will be tried out on grades 4, 7, and 10 between April 28 and May 9.

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