Stevens in bottom 15 percent, looks to improve

Although Stevens Elementary School again is being designated as a low-achieving school by the state, Dr. Kathleen Kelley, Williamsport Area School District superintendent, believes the school is improving. And she points out that the district has had less than one calendar year to undergo changes.

“Obviously, the district is disappointed to have a school on the list and doesn’t fully agree with state’s process or determination. However, it is important to make clear to our community that we are still in our first year of notification, not two years, and have had only the benefit of the past six months, since August, to respond by making improvements, which we have,” said Kelley, in an email response.

Despite being recognized as a Distinguished Title I school earlier this school year, Stevens Elementary has landed on the state’s low-achieving schools list for the second straight year.

By appearing on the list, the school was identified as being in the bottom 15 percent in terms of scores on the state System of School Achievement tests in reading and math. The designation means students scheduled to attend Stevens could receive an option to go elsewhere.

In accordance with the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett last year, students in a household that make less than $75,000 a year could receive funding to attend another school for the 2013-14 school year.

Kelley noted that Stevens has a “long-standing track record” of meeting adequate yearly progress on the PSSA.

The district expects achievement to improve as it has introduced a new reading and math program for its students. The district said the programs are challenging its students and have a proven rate of success.

“These solid core programs coupled with support systems such as Title I, Special Education, and tiered interventions delivered by classroom teachers based on data – will make a difference,” Kelley said.

And while Stevens was spared last summer when the Williamsport Area School Board voted to keep the school open – closing Round Hills and Sheridan elementary school – Kelley assures the public that students will receive a quality education.

“Although locations of buildings in our community may change, the consistency of education, teaching practices, and curriculum are strikingly the same in every elementary school,” Kelley said. “We ask that our Round Hills, Sheridan and Stevens parents continue to be involved, advocate and support rising academic expectations with their children.”

The district is required to notify families that qualify for the program on how to apply.