The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) test results are in and they’re a call to action to lawmakers to invest in education. Students are doing better today than during COVID.
With the resources schools have, they are doing a yeoman’s job helping students catch up. Still less than half of all students can meet grade-level benchmarks for math and only 54% can do so for reading and writing.
To be sure, it will take more time to rebound from COVID but not every school has the same capacity to give their students what they need.
For instance, a look at two Montgomery County school districts makes this point quite clear. In Lower Merion, 80% of students scored proficient on the math PSSA. In Pottstown only 20% hit the same benchmark. Here’s the catch – Lower Merion has $11,000+ MORE to spend on each of its students than Pottstown. That’s a lot of money that makes it possible for Lower Merion to have small classes, extra tutoring and modern instructional materials that give its students tools to succeed. Pottstown does not.
When Governor Ed Rendell took office in 2003, he worked with the Republican General Assembly to boost state education dollars and it paid off. Over seven years, state funding for public school instruction increased by 62%. In the same time frame, PSSA scores improved by 60%.
With the infusion of much needed state dollars, Pennsylvania students made huge academic gains nationally. By 2008, Pennsylvania was the only state in the nation to make academic gains across the board on the National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP) and we continued to increase our ranking nearly every year till 2011.
To this point, earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled that Pennsylvania’s education funding system is unconstitutional, concluding that students who reside in school districts with low property values and incomes are deprived of the same opportunities and resources as students who reside in school districts with high property values and incomes.
The proof is there for lawmakers to see. The Commonwealth Court has declared it to be true and the PSSA results reinforce it – state education dollars make a huge difference for students statewide. Now it’s time for state legislators and Governor Shapiro to commit to invest in education and put every student on the path to success.
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“People will speak about how they want kids in our
generation to grow up being great, we need help
being great. We need more money to do better
things, we want our education too. Some of us
don’t have the amount of money that other people
have but we still want the education we are
supposed to have.”