That’s according to the annual Future Ready PA Index PDE released this past week, covering all public school districts including 11 that include Indiana County students.
“It shows if student progress is on track and illustrates how schools are preparing students with the education and skills necessary to secure good jobs and strengthen the commonwealth’s workforce,” said state Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera said.
The index takes into consideration standardized tests such as the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments and Keystone Exams.
“The United School District saw a majority of our assessed areas in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science in both the PSSA testing and Keystone testing improved over last year,” United Superintendent Dr. Barbara Parkins said. “As well, 87 percent of our students have shown growth as noted by the PA Value Added Assessment System.”
Then it goes further.
“Our students are more than a test score, and the Future Ready PA Index is more reflective of that philosophy as it is a holistic tool for communities to measure school success,” said Indiana Area Superintendent Michael J. Vuckovich.
“(The) index data presents some real strengths within our district, and some opportunities for improvement,” said Armstrong Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams.
“I believe one of the strengths that really shows up on the report as far as our district is (concerned is) the commitment to prepare students for the workforce and life beyond high school,” said Apollo-Ridge Superintendent Dr. Matt Curci. “We excel in the career readiness standards and that is not by accident — we know that this is an incredibly important part of what we do.”
Vukovich said Indiana Area is focusing on three “rather large areas” that align with the intent of Future Ready PA: literacy, social-emotional learning, and career readiness.
“While we are pleased with a majority of our results, we recognize there is room for growth as good is the enemy of great,” the IASD superintendent said. “I am confident that the changes we are making will have a positive impact over the next several years to increase the quality of education our district provides.”
Purchase Line Superintendent Shawn L. Ford said his district is taking “a reasonable and responsible approach” to the index results.
“As a summary, we are doing well in demonstrating growth and meeting the college and career measures,” Ford said. “We have not yet reached the desired outcomes in the achievement targets and the attendance targets. To that end, we have begun laying the foundation blocks of organizational, staffing, and curricular changes to address these areas that need improvement.”
In the Punxsutawney Area School District, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Lesniewski said, “we are currently trying to improve our overall student attendance and have entered into a new working relationship with both with Justice Works and Cenclear to help us address this issue along with student mental health concerns.”
Lesniewski said student achievement and growth are a focus of his district’s yearly professional development efforts.
“We have recently partnered with Clarion University to assist us in this area,” the Punxsutawney superintendent said.
Elsewhere, other districts did not respond to Gazette requests for comment. However, according to the state’s futurereadypa.org website:
• In Blairsville-Saltsburg, all schools met or exceeded standards for what was expected to prepare students for post-secondary success.
Blairsville Elementary School exceeded expectations for English and Mathematics, while Saltsburg Elementary School saw a decline in such expectations over the past year.
Blairsville Middle School saw declines from last year in English performance, increases in Math performance,
Saltsburg Middle/High School had improvement in numbers of proficient and advanced scorers in Math and English, but a decline in academic growth expectations for Math.
Blairsville High School saw declines in the number of proficient and advanced scorers in Math and English, but an increase in academic growth expectations for English.
• In Harmony Area, the elementary school met state standards for English and Math despite declining test scores, and met state standards for attendance. The high school had declines across the board, but there was improvement in the past year as the high school met standards in the category of “four-year cohort graduation.
• Homer-Center Elementary School lost ground in numbers of proficient and advanced scorers on Math and English tests, but improvement in academic growth expectations in English, while meeting state standards for attendance and for what was expected to prepare students for post-secondary success.
Despite declines from last year, Homer-Center High School still managed to meet state standards for proficient and advanced scorers in Math and English, as well as performance standards for attendance and preparing students for post-secondary success.
• Marion Center Area High School had declines in numbers of proficient and advanced students in Math and English and did not meet state standards for attendance, but still met standards for preparing students for post-secondary success.
Despite declining scores in most categories, Rayne Elementary School still met or exceeded interim targets for Math and English, W.A. McCreery Elementary School saw improvement in Math scores and expectations but a mixed result in English, with improvement in meeting standards for proficient and advanced scorers but a decline in what already was failure to meet statewide goals for demonstrating growth.
Both elementary schools met standards for attendance, and exceeded standards for preparing students for post-secondary success.
• Penns Manor Area Junior-Senior High School saw improvement in Math scores, mixed results in English scores, and meet standards for attendance and preparing students for post-secondary success.
Penns Manor Area Elementary School had further declines in what already were percentages of proficient and advanced scorers that did not meet state standards, but an increase in academic growth expectations for Math, and a meeting of performance standards for attendance and preparing students for post-secondary success.