Opt Out of Standardized Testing

Parents can opt their children out of PSSA, PASA, and Keystone tests. You can read more about our general position and history on opting out of tests here.

Why opt out?

(even if your child does well on the tests)

  • You trust your child’s teachers to assess their learning.
  • You feel multiple measures (tests, quizzes, class work, homework, and projects) provide a better picture of your child’s abilities than a single, high-stakes standardized test.
  • You wish classes had more time for assignments that encourage creative, independent thinking.
  • You’d like for librarians, support staff, extracurricular activities etc. to be funded before tests.
  • You’ve seen how the school’s climate and appearance change during testing season.
  • You understand PSSAs have a disproportionate negative effect on students with IEPs, English Language Learners, anxious children, and students living in poverty.
  • You recognize many smart, talented, successful people don’t perform well on standardized tests.
  • You know children don’t come “standardized.”

What to Know About PSSAs

In 2015 the PSSAs were redesigned to be a more rigorous in order to align to the Pennsylvania Core Standards. They were designed with the expectation that fewer students would score “proficient” on them. Nevertheless, those scores are used to evaluate teachers, administrators and entire schools and have been used to justify school closures, increased testing throughout the school year, and less time on non-tested subjects.

Note: Special admissions middle and high schools may require PSSA scores for admission, but students can and have been admitted without them to many special admissions schools. If this is a concern for you, check with your school counselor and the school(s) to which you are considering applying.

What to Know About Keystones

School districts can require students to take the Keystone exams in Algebra 1, Biology and Literature. The Keystones are not a requirement for graduation for students in the class of 2021.

For students who are graduating after 2021, there are a variety of options for graduation in addition to/ instead of the Keystone exams to fulfill graduation requirements. You can read more about this on the PDE website and you may want to also discuss it with your child’s school counselor and/or principal. There are alternatives to Keystone testing written into the law.

How to Opt Out

Start the Opt Out process by sending an opt out letter to your school’s principal. This request cannot be denied. You can find more information about the opt out process in this fact sheet from the Education Law Center.

To create your letter, you can either:

  1. Use our Opt Out Form Letter Generator,* which will send you the form letter filled in with your information for you to send to your school’s principal
    OR
  2. Access our Opt Out Form Letter Templates to edit for submission to your school’s principal (Google Doc and Microsoft Word formats provided):

Still have questions? Contact parentsunitedphila@gmail.com

*Use of Information: We will keep track of how many people use the form letter generator, as well as general geographic/ school trends, but we will not use the information in any other way or share it with anyone, ever.