BLOSSBURG - The way the Southern Tioga School District uses data from Pennsylvania's School Performance Profile to more comprehensively assess the academic performance of each of its schools has been implemented, according to district Superintendent Keith Yarger.
While schools previously received a No Child Left Behind designation, public schools will now receive an academic performance score from the government's Department of Education.
An online public portal, the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile at www.paschoolperformance.org provides demographic data, academic data, and an academic performance score for public schools in the state, he added.
"Unlike previous measures of our schools, the School Performance Profile utilizes many data points to measure our schools' academic strength," Yarger said.
"While we receive a score for our schools, the more important aspect of this resource is that it allows us to acknowledge our strengths and use the profile as a tool for student improvement."
The School Performance Profile academic performance score is based not only on test scores but many other factors that signal student achievement.
A student growth factor measures how well students are progressing toward proficiency in state assessments.
The scores for the Southern Tioga School District are per building:
W. L. Miller Elementary School : 82.7
Liberty Elementary School: 76.4
Blossburg Elementary School: 68.3
Mansfield High School: 76.8
Liberty High School: 66.8
North Penn High School: 63.5
"Some of it is promotion rate which they didn't add into the scores this year because there were a lot of superintendents across the state that felt it was incorrect," he said.
That score is worth five percent of the achievement gap, and had it been included, it would have brought Blossburg Elementary School up to 70.1, Liberty Elementary School would have been 77.8 and Warren L. Miller Elementary School would have gone up to 83.6, according to Yarger.
"They will be adding that in next year," Yarger said, adding he is making the breakdown from all the schools and how they performed available to the public on the district's website.
Also measured are graduation and attendance rates, and degree of rigorous course offerings at the secondary level.
A score is reported for each school and is based upon indicators that define a high performing school in Pennsylvania.
"Using the data available through the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile provides us with a broader lens to view the academic performance in our schools. Our staff is using these data on Act 80 days to more fully evaluate the programs and services provided to students," Yarger said.
Yarger noted that the new scoring system is good news for a smaller school district like Southern Tioga with limited resources.
"This gives us a chance to move forward and get those scores up for next year. I think the new formula the state is using is better suited for schools in that now everything is not based completely on test scores. We can work on how the data is derived from the state, there are many different aspects of it now," he added.
An example of how the system works, Yarger said, is for math, reading, science and writing scores on the PSSAs, each one of them are only worth 7.5 points toward the total score, so that total is 30 points all together.
"On top of that in the high schools, the state looks at how many took the SATs and how they scored," he said.
Using a Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment tool the state can see that students are receiving a "year's worth of growth," he added.
"With the PVAS growth, you can look at where the student lies as far as the testing goes," Yarger said.
"Let's say you have an eighth grade student reading at a sixth grade level, if you can see they have gained a year's worth of growth over the year so they are reading at a seventh grade level as they go into ninth grade, it is enough," he said .
"Students with Individual Education Plans are the same way, students that might be in fifth grade and doing math at a first grade level because of cognitive level and the way they learn. If they show in tests they are moving up a year to a second grade level as they move into sixth grade level then that counts as far as the state is concerned," he added.
Though the teacher might still recommend holding a student back if it appears he or she is not able to keep up with his or her peers, it does affect the school's rating score, Yarger said.
"Our schools welcome an additional view of academic performance. Our administrators and teachers are always open to new tools and strategies to further enhance data-informed decision making in our schools," Yarger said.