900 Thousand Pennsylvania Kids Taking Pssas This Week

04.08.13 | Sarah Harnisch

As schools across Pennsylvania begin administering annual standardized tests this week, there is growing debate about the opportunity to opt out of the exams. Pittsburgh parent Kathy Newman is pulling her third-grader out of the tests known as the PSSAs, because she says the exams "warp the educational environment" and are too stressful for students and teachers. The PSSAs are given to students in grades 3-8 and in grade 11. Schools that don't perform well could receive extra oversight, new staff, or be shut down. The law allows parents to opt out, but only if test material conflicts with their religious beliefs. Opting out is extremely rare: Only 260 out of about 932,000 students sat out of the exams last year.