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State school performance helps identify challenges

Map courtesy of futurereadypa.org The Future Ready PA Index is a collection of school progress measures related to school and student success. The Index includes a range of assessment, on-track, and readiness indicators, to more accurately report student learning, growth, and success in the classroom and beyond. Head to futurereadypa.org/Search/Location to search schools by location.

When the statewide school performance profile numbers were released in November, only two Warren County schools found themselves to be above the midpoint of scores.

The scores take into account standardized test scores, improvement on those scores compared to previous results, attendance, graduation rates, and other factors.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the SPP scores among schools in Warren County for 2018-2019 were:

¯ Beaty-Warren Middle — 59.3

¯ Eisenhower Elementary — 66.7

¯ Eisenhower Middle/High — 63.1

¯ Sheffield Area Elementary — 62.8

¯ Sheffield Area Middle/High — 59.5

¯ Tidioute Community Charter — 62.5

¯ Warren Area Elementary — 70.6

¯ Warren Area High — 73

¯ Youngsville Elementary — 53.9

¯ Youngsville Middle/High 64.7

The lowest scoring school in the state, out of 2,950 reporting had a 15.7. The highest was a 104.8.

Warren Area High School’s score was in about the top 1,000 scores in the state. Warren Area Elementary Center’s score placed it in the top 1,300.

Regional high school scores included: Kane — 58.5; West Forest — 61.9; East Forest — 62.1; Corry — 67.5; Franklin — 68.6; Meadville — 68.9; Titusville — 71.1; Oil City — 75.6; and Bradford — 84.3.

“This is an indicator of what we need to be focusing on,” District Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Eric Mineweaser said. “They matter. They matter a lot.”

“We have a lot of work to do to get to where we believe we should be,” Mineweaser said. “Even if we were higher than what we are, we should never be happy.”

The building-level profile — also known as the school performance profile — is a 100-point scale. One school in the state — Downingtown STEM Academy — exceeded a score of 100, posting a 104.8 with the help of some extra credit. A total of seven extra credit points are possible.

The scores are not just the average of student test scores.

Included in the building-level performance profile are:

¯ academic achievement — the percentage of students scoring in the proficient and advanced ranges on standardized tests including those representing industry standards;

¯ closing the achievement gap — if scores reflect that the school is making progress toward proficiency for all students;

¯ closing the achievement gap — if scores among historically underperforming groups show progress toward proficiency;

¯ academic growth — the impact on academic achievement of groups of students from one year to the next;

¯ other academic indicators — graduation rate, promotion rate, attendance.

The growth category represents a full 40 percent of the building level performance. The first three add up to 50 percent and the final group contributes 10 percent.

“We have to be able to show growth,” Mineweaser said. “Our goal is to see these scores increase over time.”

The state has expectations and can assign sanctions to schools that underperform.

The district is not taking a reactive stance.

“We can’t go year by year and say we’ll try again,” he said. “We can’t just sit here and be stagnant.”

“There are things we can do right away,” Mineweaser said. Students’ advisory periods can be used for PSSA and Keystone remediation.

“We have identified areas of concern,” he said. “We have started to gear our professional development to our areas of weakness.”

After that, “we’ll start to brainstorm some ideas in order to improve,” he said. “I will be meeting with the principals. The principals will be meeting with teachers.”

The district’s data team digs into the data provided by the state and the testing entities. “We looked at the specific areas where our kids are struggling,” Mineweaser said.

Then, there are the college and career readiness requirements — a relatively new addition to the standards and one in which the district is not particularly strong. “It’s part of what we have to do,” he said. “We want it to be meaningful.”

It is an area that district officials expect to see improvement. “We have full control over that,” Mineweaser said.

The scores matter to teachers for more than just changing curriculum.

Building-level scores are plugged into the evaluations of teaching (15 percent) and non-teaching (20 percent) staff.

The building-level scores can be found on the education.pa.gov website.

The Future Ready PA Index, which gives some additional information about how schools are doing in each category can be found at futurereadypa.org. Each category shows a blue (ahead), green (on target), or red (behind) circle or arrow. An arrow pointing up indicates improvement. A downward arrow indicates a step backward.

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