CASD reviews PSSA results|
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
After an hour long executive session for legal and personnel matters, the Clearfield Area School Board gathered in the middle school library to hear the results of the PSSA exams from last year.
Director of Curriculum Bruce Nichols first explained that last year was the last year for PSSA for 11th grade students and this year they will take the Keystone Exams.
Nichols first presented the results of attendance and graduation. The attendance target for grades K-8 was 90 percent and the rate for the 2011-12 school year was 94.39 percent and the five-year average was 94.75 percent. The graduation target was 82.5 percent but the class of 2011 graduated only 78.40 percent. Nichols noted that the way this is measured is only student who complete their course work in four years are counted. Students who take four and a half or five years are counted as dropouts.
Participation was also measured in each school in math and reading and the target was 95 percent who take the test. In Bradford, Centre, Girard-Goshen and Clearfield Elementary School there was 100 percent participation in both tests (reading and math) and at the middle school there was 99 percent participation and at the high school 97 percent participation. Nichols said some of those who didn't participate in the tests at the high school level were long term absent students or there were other reasons they couldn't participate but PSSA doesn't allow for many excuses.
Nichols then showed a chart that showed performance by grade and the percentage of proficient students. In most of the grades math led the field, especially in grades three and four with scores dropping below the target beginning in fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and 11th grades. None of the grades reached the reading target but 11th grade students did significantly better in reading than in math. "The targets do keep going up," Nichols said.
When broken down by building, the four elementary schools excelled in math while reading lagged behind. At the middle school the results were closer while at the high school reading results were higher than math. "In reading...we're not as far along as we'd like to be," Nichols said.
Nichols showed charts where proficiency for both math and reading have gone up in the past 10 years and he noted that reading proficiency has also gone up, just not as much for the other grades, with eighth grade being the exception.
He also showed where middle and high school math proficiency has gone up or remained relatively the same under Chicago Math, especially in regards to students at the proficient and advanced levels.
He added that with the elementary students and Everyday Math most of the students are proficient. Nichols was also able to show charts where many of the schools have shown sufficient or average growth in math with only a handful of areas where there has been less than expected growth. In reading there was, again, more of a difference but the elementary schools in both math and reading showed improvement.
The bottom line, Nichols said, is that the AYP results indicate district improvement is needed due to graduation rates, for which the administration is already working on a plan. Bradford, Girard-Goshen and CES have all made AYP. Centre elementary received a warning in reading and Nichols noted this is the first time for the school and again said he believed it was because targets have gone up again. The Middle School is on School Improvement I due to math scores by students in the free/reduced lunch program, and the high school is on corrective action 2 due to missed targets in math and graduation rates.
"Overall, there has been improvement just to keep up," Nichols said, adding that Clearfield's elementary schools are on par with State College in regards to math.
Board member Dave Glass asked about the fifth grade scores, which were significantly lower in both math and reading and Principal Fred Redden suggested first that it might be the transition from elementary to middle school, which will be corrected when the schools are consolidated.
But also, they have been working on helping the students to focus and working with the teachers as well. He noted there was a turnover with several fifth grade teachers and that would also have had an effect on student performance. He said they are concerned and are strategizing with the teachers and working hard to bring the fifth graders back on track.
With the sixth, seventh and eighth grades in reading, it was noted there was a program change in the eighth grade and some turnover of teachers in sixth and seventh grades.
In the high school, Principal Tim Janoko said they are working with certain students who are struggling and they are doing better in both math and English. He also noted that daily department meetings have helped tremendously. The teachers are also working together and showing improvement that way.
Janoko added that summer school has been a success and he would like to see social studies and science added to the program, which in turn will help graduation rates.
Dr. Thomas Otto, district superintendent, said there is also a need to help students of lower socio-economic standing understand that they can still achieve academically, something that was echoed by other administrators.
Otto also said they are seeing the results of professional development and want the teachers to show what they have learned to others.
Elementary Principal Jamie Quick added that they are concerned with encouraging low-income students and students with disabilities to achieve and that they are also improving. He said there have been some changes in resources and staff, which should help as well. He also said they are working on helping students develop and sense of pride in what they do and develop responsibility and respect and he said he expects this will have an indirect affect on academics.