In short, the answer is NO. Homeschoolers in PA do not have to take the PSSA tests.
Let me repeat that.
Homeschool children DO NOT need to take the PSSAs.
And another way.
If you homeschool your children, you are governed by the PA Home Education Laws - not your school district - and you DO NOT NEED TO TAKE THE PSSA EXAMS.
Understanding the Homeschool Law in PA
Why is that so important to reiterate? Well, after being "spoken to" by a non-homeschooling parent on Facebook who insisted that the required testing of homeschoolers in grades 3, 5, and 8 was the PSSAs, I think it's really important that you understand the law. Because there's a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of people who think they know what the law says, but don't quite bother to read it.
Don't be one of those people. Know what's expected of you and know what's not. Understand your rights and responsibilities - because you have both when you're homeschooling.
What the PA Homeschooling Law Actually Says
Here's what the PA Home Education Law says (scroll to page 15):
"(1) A portfolio of records and materials. The portfolio shall consist of a log, made contemporaneously with the instruction, which designates by title the reading materials used, samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks or creative materials used or developed by the student and in grades three, five, and eight results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests in reading/language arts and mathematics or the results of Statewide tests administered in these grade levels. The department shall establish a list, with a minimum of five tests, of nationally normed standardized tests from which the supervisor of the home education program shall select a test to be administered if the supervisor does not choose the Statewide tests. At the discretion of the supervisor, the portfolio may included the results of nationally normed standardized achievement tests for other subject areas or grade levels. The supervisor shall ensure that the nationally normed standardized tests or the Statewide tests shall not be administered by the child’s parent or guardian.”
Did you notice the part that says "The department shall establish a list, with a minimum of five tests, of nationally normed standardized tests from which the supervisor of the home education program shall select a test to be administered if the supervisor does not choose the Statewide tests"?
Guess what? That means that homeschoolers DO NOT NEED TO TAKE THE PSSAs.
So What Tests Can Homeschoolers Take In PA to Fulfill the Testing Requirements?
Great question! Since you are not taking the PSSAs, you need to find another test for your child for grades 3, 5, and 8.
Here's the list of approved tests from the state's website (again here's the direct link to the PDF so you can show it to people if need be):
California Achievement Test
Comprehensive Testing Program (CTPIV)
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Measures of Academic Progress (MAP)
Metropolitan Achievement Test
Peabody Achievement Individual Test – Revised Version
Stanford Achievement Test
Woodcock-Johnson Revised Tests of Achievement III
Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III)
The state only has to provide five options according to the law, but they've generously given homeschool families 10 options to choose from.
The Test We Used
We always used the CAT online exam from Christian Liberty. It's not a religion based test, they just happen to have it available. Here's the direct link to what we used - California Achievement Test (Online Version)
The great thing about it was that because it was an online test, it was super simple for the kids to complete and it was easy to send away for quick grading.
I just copied the final score sheet and included it in their portfolios in 3rd, 5th, and 8th grades.
So, What You're Saying Is That I Don't Have to Take the PSSAs, But I Have to Take Something Else?
Yep, that's exactly what I'm saying and what the PA Home Education Law says. Don't be fooled. Do your research. READ THE LAW YOURSELF - don't take anyone's word for it - even mine. I think it's super important that you do your due diligence, because it's your children and their education you're fighting for. That's worth taking the time to read a relatively easy to understand law.
You can do this!
Just don't take the PSSAs, okay?