The Pennsylvania Department of Education conveniently published the state standardized test scores on November 8, one day after the election. And while the newly appointed Secretary of Education attempted to frame the scores as positive, the results are nothing short of abysmal. 

Statewide, just over half of students in grades three to eight are proficient in English Language Arts. Stated another way, almost half of our elementary and middle school students are not reading proficiently.

Math scores are even worse. At best, less than 52 percent of third graders are proficient in math.  And the scores only decrease from there. Only 46.5 percent of fourth graders are proficient, 42.8 percent of fifth graders, 36.5 percent of sixth graders, 33.2 percent of seventh graders, and 26.1 percent of eighth graders are proficient. 

Maybe the most startling fact is that math scores are decreasing every year as students advance grades.

The former superintendent of Lower Merion School District and now Secretary of Education, Dr. Khalid N. Mumin said that he was pleased with student progress. “This year’s assessment results underscore what we have said before — that with each passing year, participation and achievement will continue to improve.”

The press release further elaborated on the gains made during the 2022-2023 school year, noting that “English Language Arts proficiency increasing from 54.1 percent in 21-22 to 54.5 percent in 22-23, Math increasing from 35.7 percent in 21-22 to 38.3 percent in 22-23, and Science increasing from 54.4 percent in 21-22 to 58.9 percent.”

The fact that only 26 percent of eighth grade students are proficient in math and only half of elementary students are reading proficiently should be headline news. And why wait until November 8 to publish these results?  

“The results of the 2022-23 statewide assessments – which include not only Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), but also Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) and Keystone Exams – were published on November 8 to align with the State Board of Education’s meeting on the same date. The date of an election is not a factor,” a spokesperson for the Department of Education said. 

The department further stated that last year’s PSSA results were published on November 28, 2022. “Assessment results are usually posted in November. This time frame allows PDE to properly collect, review, and publish the data for the benefit of schools, families, and all Pennsylvanians.”

Regardless of the department’s response, the timing of the publication and the State Board of Education meeting date is certainly inconvenient to any voter who would want the most up-to-date data on their district before voting on its leadership.

Beyond the timing of the publication, the overall results are concerning. And while individual districts will vary, the bottom line is that public schools are failing the majority of our students. 

In a press release, Mumin said, “Pennsylvania’s results are well on their way to returning to pre-pandemic rates and we look forward to helping our students exceed those levels in the years ahead.” 

The problem is that prior to 2020, the test scores were not much better. While those in charge want to blame extended school closures for the low scores, the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) results have been poor for quite some time. 

Back in 2018 and 2019, only 60 percent of all elementary and middle school students were proficient in reading. For the same time period, math proficiency ranged from 31 to 56 percent. While the scores did decrease during school closures, they were already sub-par prior to covid. 

At the very least, the state should have announced the scores prior to the election. Voters have a right to know the facts before they cast a ballot. The state legislature should consider a change in the law to require it. Maybe if taxpayers had known the facts about the low return on their tax dollar investment, they would have voted differently. 

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at

13 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: Standardized test scores are published – as soon as the election is over.”

  1. You lost. Your platform was out of step and you literally had candidates pretending to be Dems at the polls. Your excuses are just sour grapes.

    1. Republicans are DEEPLY out of touch with the American people. Look at referendum after referendum showing how incredibly unpopular their few actual policies really are. Of course, that’s why they’re no longer a party that runs on policies but instead runs on getting “revenge” on the so called “vermin” who they blame for literally everything by being “woke”. That’s the kind of unhinged, violent rhetoric that can’t even be questioned because facts and logic are totally irrelevant to it. It’s just hysterical emotion.

  2. Actually no one is winning… that is what those reported test numbers show. 74 PERCENT of eighth grade students ARE INCOMPETENT at math! You know those numbers are spun the best they can be made to look, too.

  3. Again, Dr. Rosica uses data to highlight the truth. Schools are failing our kids. The current leadership should do a formal curricular review and discard anything that detracts from reading, writing, and math.

    1. So why does her data conveniently leave out other states with minimal covid restrictions that saw scores drop as much if not more than PA🤔 Cherry picking data to push a political agenda is the oldest and most transparent trick in the book. (Of course, the books about it are probably banned in tx and fl lol)

      “And students in states that re-opened schools quickly during the pandemic often performed no better than those in states that stuck with remote learning longer.” –

  4. These scores were released the same time they always are. Sore loser. And yes, my kids are getting a fantastic public school education. Part of why Beth lost is her spin doesn’t reflect the experiences reality of most of us with children in our county. But whatevs! These excuses are entertaining and don’t change a thing.

  5. Any question in your mind as to Why and How we became the Poorest Big City in Our Country?
    As someone who has been involved in Apprenticeship Training for 45 years,
    We need Apprentices to have 8th Grade Reading and Math Skills to succeed.
    They come to us and can’t read a ruler ( ask them to show you where 3 and 5/8 inches is, Or add 3/4 plus 1/2 in their heads!

    Our 150 hours of “Related Training per year Does Not Allow us the time to provide Remedial Math or Reading Comprehension to address this deficiency for a High School GRADUATE so they can succeed

  6. “I love the poorly educated” – 2020 election loser and notorious SAT cheater Donald Trump.
    And sorry to question the Official Party Narrative as predictably parotted by media pundits in biased outlets like b&l but looking across states, there’s simply no correlation between covid policies and drops in student performance. This is clear cut agitprop. For eg. Some of the ONLY states where 8th grade reading scores improved from 2019 to 2022 were CA, NY, and NJ. And who would be surprised that states that don’t censor books in order to appease a radical base have better readers?
    Perhaps the most damning and clearly stated article to address this kind of hysterical right-wing rhetoric is:

    “And students in states that re-opened schools quickly during the pandemic often performed no better than those in states that stuck with remote learning longer.” –

    1. Hey Cic, read that website again — California’s 8th grade reading scores declined three points since 2019. The biggest improvements were in Alabama, Iowa, and Texas. Maybe Covid harmed your reading comprehension too, you crumb bum!

  7. To release the scores earlier than usual in order to influence an election would have been next level meddling. I guess that’s what Beth wanted.

  8. Sour grapes. The reason your folks lost is because you are aligned with QAnon nuts like Ada and people like you who sued the district for doing medical experiments on kids…or something like that. Give me reasonable Republicans and I will consider them. Until then you can make up all the excuses in the world but unless you look in the mirror, you will keep losing.

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