Education department releases school performance scores
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania education officials released performance scores Friday for nearly all of the state’s 3,200 traditional, charter, cyber and technical schools, saying they will give parents, administrators and taxpayers the ability to monitor student achievement, build on successes and better address failings.
The performance scores were available online at paschoolperformance.org, and acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq said she was pleased by the number of public school buildings that scored well.
The data release came after a four-day delay prompted by complaints from school officials that technical errors had resulted in many students’ tests not being included in the scoring. As a result, performance scores for 626 buildings, including some in Indiana County, were incomplete while school officials try to correct the errors before the end of the year.
School Performance Profiles offer academic ratings for each building based on a 100-point scale.
“Realizing how difficult it is to get great scores, for me, 70 starts to be the mark of moving toward success,” Dumaresq told reporters on a conference call Friday. “I use that roughly as a benchmark. Even our schools that are in the 90s may have an area that needs improvement.”
Dumaresq said it appeared that at least 72 percent of public school buildings in Pennsylvania that had completed scores had cleared that benchmark, “which I think is phenomenal.” The department had no immediate figure for the percentage of charter and cyber-charter schools that had reached that benchmark.
In Indiana County, two schools were below the 70-point benchmark: Purchase Line Elementary School (66.9) and Saltsburg Middle School/High School (65.9).
Overall, the median score for all school buildings tied to districts headquartered in the county is 78.4. That number, however, is imprecise because it doesn’t include all of the secondary schools — the scores aren’t yet available for some.
The new profiles replace the previous standard known as AYP, or adequate yearly progress, which was based solely on student math and reading scores. Pennsylvania is no longer required to use that benchmark since receiving a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Schools are now judged on data that include attendance, participation in standardized testing, graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. Ratings will be updated annually.
Parents can use the ratings to compare academic options for their children, while administrators can use the data to set goals and allocate resources, officials said. The comprehensive profiles also include statistics such as enrollment and dropout rates.
Despite Dumaresq’s upbeat reaction, some were not pleased with their scores.
David Hardy, founder of Boys’ Latin Charter School in Philadelphia, said the school’s low profile score of 40.9 is unfair and misleading. The figure incorporates results from student performance on the Keystone Exams, which are new and more rigorous than previous standardized tests.
Eighty percent of the school’s first two graduating classes have gone on to college, Hardy said. But now, “for the next year, our school’s going to have the black eye of having a 40,” he said Friday.
Education officials have acknowledged that Keystone results across the state were unusually low in their inaugural year.
Gazette staff writer Sam Kusic contributed to this report.
The following local schools had these performance scores:
Elementary School 82.0
Middle School 85.0
High School 73.9
Dayton Elem. 78.3
Kittanning Sr. High 67.2
Blairsville Elem. 81.8
Saltsburg Elem. 80.0
Blairsville MS 76.9
Saltsburg MS/HS 65.9
Blairsville HS 71.0
Elementary School 74.2
Ben Franklin Elem. 83.1
East Pike Elem. 90.3
Eisenhower Elem. 91.5
Horace Mann Elem. 84.8
MARION CENTER AREA
Rayne Elem. 78.4
W.A. McCreery Elem. 80.0
Jr./Sr. High NA
PENNS MANOR AREA
Elementary School 78.0
Bell Twp. Elem. 93.4
Jenks Hill Elem. 76.0
Longview Elem. 76.9
Mapleview Elem. 86.9
Parkview Elem. 84.9
West End Elem. 81.0
Middle School 71.8
High School NA
Elementary School 66.9
Elementary School 83.2
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Education