PSSA Panic

With the start of a new calendar year comes that annual “PSSA Panic” for me.  Knowing we are several short months away from these all-important high-stakes tests, I look at 40-minute-class-period time constraints, a curriculum overridden with topics, and the never-ending middle school juggling act, being wedged between foundation-setting and too-soon high school topics.  Am I teaching middle school mathematics? Or a true Algebra course?  Or perhaps a hybrid of both courses in one year, with shorter class periods than ever before?  Do I continue to teach content, or do I shift my focus on test taking skills, or both?

Then it dawns on me.

No wonder I am panic-stricken.  We are halfway through a school year, and students are being assessed shortly after on an entire year’s worth of content!

My suggestion – either continue to test in March and have the months of April, May and June as an early summer, or give the PSSA in late May!

Don’t get me wrong.  I like the idea of accountability and consistency.  I think high standards and expectations are important.  However, now more than ever, defining what middle school mathematics *should* be keeps evolving.  Algebra seems to be sneaking to earlier and earlier grades, pushing higher-level content to the late elementary grades as well.

What should a successful middle school mathematics program look like?  How do we get there from here?

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