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Pennsylvania student test results show steep drop in math; test was harder due to Common Core


HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania students have fared a lot worse on the state's new, more difficult standardized math test, the first to test students on their mastery of skills based on Common Core standards.

Education Secretary Pedro Rivera called the exam "fundamentally different" and cautioned against comparing this year's scores with last year's, saying that would not be an accurate measure of student growth or academic achievement.

The statewide results show a drop of more than 31 percentage points on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment math test and a 9-point drop on the English test, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Education.

About 26 percent of students scored "proficient" on the math test, while 13.5 percent scored "advanced." In English, 42.5 percent scored proficient and 17.5 percent scored advanced.

Some parents blame the lower scores on Common Core itself, saying it's resulted in an unnecessarily convoluted and complicated approach to math instruction.

The 2015 PSSAs were the first to test students on their mastery of skills based on Pennsylvania's version of the Common Core standards, a set of English and math standards adopted by dozens of states that spell out what students should know and when. The new math standards are widely regarded as more rigorous, requiring students to learn some skills a year earlier.

Education officials say they consider this year's PSSA scores a benchmark and expect the scores to steadily improve as students and teachers adjust.


Pennsylvania System of School Assessment results:

This story has been corrected to show a more than 31-point drop in the math test, not a 32-point drop.

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