Indiana, PA - Indiana County

PURCHASE LINE: Directors review changes to state performance scores

by on December 11, 2013 10:50 AM

PURCHASE LINE — High school Principal James Price and elementary school Principal Thomas Grierson presented changes Purchase Line can expect to see in the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile during the board’s regular meeting Monday at the high school.

The performance profile now provides a score for teachers as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Educator Effectiveness Project, Price said.

“Before, it was just the one PSSA score period,” Price said.

“Now they’re giving you opportunities for schools and they’re taking a bigger look.”

Before, according to Price, teacher evaluations were based primarily on observations and brief meetings with the teachers themselves, a process that could take up to two hours. Now, observations are more in-depth with information flowing back and forth from him to board members and back. Teacher ratings will be influenced by a number of factors, including the observation, student feedback and the rating for the school overall.

Also, the number of advanced classes the school offers, such as advanced placement or dual enrollment classes can lead to a ratings increase. The score can also be affected by the number of students taking the PSATs and SATs.

“They look at the big picture of your school now,” Price said.

The overall goal is moving forward and having more students take the PSATs and enroll in advanced classes.

There will also be a focus on improving math, reading, writing and science scores.

According to Grierson, teachers at the elementary school are not afforded as many opportunities to “massage the numbers,” but one primary number that will increase or decrease a school’s overall rating is third-grade reading scores.

“It’s going to be based primarily on how well we’re doing in reading, writing and mathematics,” he said.

Education at the elementary level is now being shaped by the school’s shift to adhere to the common core standards laid out by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

“It makes sense to make sure we do self-contained classrooms so that every teacher in some capacity is responsible for both reading and writing as well as other disciplines,” Grierson said.

The focus from this point on will be on improving student’s reading scores. According to Grierson, if students aren’t reading well by the third grade, “we’re playing catch-up for the rest of their careers.”

According to its website, the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile “offers a web-based resource for districts/schools to communicate performance results to various constituencies and assist districts and schools in aligning and focusing resources for continuous improvement.”

The Educator Effectiveness Project works to “develop an educator effectiveness model that will incorporate those attributes that are most critical to the way teachers, non-teaching professionals, and principals are evaluated as well as providing training tools for professional growth that provide support as part of a fair effective evaluation process,” according to its website.

The board voted down a proposal for a new course focusing on world music and music history.

Concern was raised that the new class would not have sufficient enrollment numbers, as well as the fact that the class would be replacing the existing theater tech class.

The board feared that fewer students would be willing to enroll in a new music class than would enroll in the existing theater class.

The board expressed a desire to have music teacher Rebecca Bracken, who had proposed the class, to come to a meeting and explain the class to them before they would consider voting on it again.

Superintendent Joseph Bradley reminded the school board directors that they and community members are welcome to have “Breakfast With Bradley” on Jan. 7 at 9 a.m. at the high school cafeteria.

In other business, the board:

• Transfered Bernardine Peles from a five-hour custodial position to an eight-hour custodial position beginning Jan. 3.

• Hired Inez Smith as a four-hour cafeteria cook at $9.64 an hour.

• Added the following professionals to the substitute list: Phil Mennitti, social studies, and Regina Yannella, elementary.

• Agreed to continue with the Cooperative Purchasing Program through ARIN IU 28 for the 2014-15 school year, except for coal.

• Hired Dr. Amanda Vagalia for medical services for the remainder of the 2013-14 school year and 2014-15 school year, at $30 per school physical and $35 per sports physical.



Jeremy Hartley is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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