PSSA scores in for Greencastle-Antrim, high school lags

PAT FRIDGEN

Education director Bob Crider presented the 2010/2011 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment achievement data to the school board on Oct. 6. The results were from the April PSSA tests taken by children in grades 3-8 and 11. The tests were in reading and math, with benchmarks of 72 percent and 67 percent respectively, set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In 2014 the expectation is 100 percent in both subjects. Schools that hit the target obtain Adequate Yearly Progress status. The elementary and middle schools made AYP, the high school did not.

The scores of the juniors, now the senior class, were 69.1 percent in reading, down from 74.1 last year; and 54.6 percent in math, down from 65.7 last year. The Class of 2011 obtained those higher scores as juniors when the benchmarks were just 63 and 56 and they were honored with a tailgate party last September.

The reason for the drop in test scores was unknown.

"There is nothing major different at school to account for this," said Crider.

The elementary school scores were reading 78.8, and math 78.5. At the middle school they were reading 79.8 and math 82.5.

Administration and teachers at the high school are working under the theme "Cultivate Growth" this year, to build up students academically, socially and emotionally, said Crider. That included remaining kid-focused, increasing the use of data teams (but that also meant time was needed to train teachers), adhering to Learning-Focused Schools ideals, coordinating middle and high school planning, and letting students take diagnostic tests for language arts and math.

Crider explained that Pennsylvania was moving toward growth data to measure student progress on a yearly basis, rather than "one test in one week", such as the PSSA scores. One such measurement, in the PA Value-Added Assessment System, showed Greencastle students had grown academically. In math the entire high school student body was at a value of 2.5, with a 1.2 differential above the state average. On a three-year scale, G-AHS was 4.0, and 2.7 above the state average.

That system, he said, compared schools of similar size and characteristics.

With PA-VAAS, the elementary and middle school students were also growing in reading and math, and always above the state average.

Crider favored the Keystone exams, projected to begin in 2014. They are in the pilot stage and test proficiency in each subject.

Other business

The board approved naming rights to the Kaley Field scoreboard to F&M Trust, which donated $75,000 to the G-A MAAX capital campaign. When asked if there was any discussion, Brian Hissong said, "Thank you."

A request for Howard Ritchey to attend a school leadership conference at a cost of $1,148 was denied because Ritchey is leaving the board in December, and because conferences in general were cut from the year's budget.

The senior citizen tax exchange program was adopted for this school year. Board secretary Diane Haugh said last year 250 people benefited from the program. Volunteers, usually parents in the primary and elementary schools, worked 2,354 hours, and the seniors received an average $67 rebate. Dr. C. Gregory Hoover said the district budgets for the rebate to give the older population a break. "They appreciate the reduction in taxes."