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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  School District 'report card': Nearly A+

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  • Managing Editor
    Administrators at Wallenpaupack area School District presented their Yearly Progress Report to the board, Oct. 8th, showing overall excellent results. SAT scores, High School Principal Jay Starnes noted, exceed both the state and national average. The SAT, or Scholastic Aptitude Test, is taken by seniors with aspirations of higher education and being accepted for college enrollment. The average SAT score was 1012, for the 2011-2012 school year. This combines the Math score of 518 and Reading, 494. The Pennsylvania average SAT score was 992 (Math 501, Reading 491) and nationally, the average SAT score was 1010 (Math 514, Reading 496). The score was a bit below the 2010-2011 school year when Wallenpaupack students averaged 1013. Although Wallenpaupack went down one point, Starnes noted that the state and national SAT scores each went down two points. The Yearly Progress Report shows how well the District students are reaching proficiency in reading and math, listed on a report card called Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). This is a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which since 2002 sets growing standards with the goal of 100% proficiency in 2014. The Pennsylvania Department of Education AYP goals for 2011-2012 were 78% of students scoring at Proficient or higher in Mathematics and 81% of students scoring at Proficient or higher in Reading. Wallenpaupack had an overall Math score of 82%, and a Reading score of 79%. This is based on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) testing done in grades 3, 4,5,6,7,8 and 11. Each of the Wallenpaupack schools met all of the AYP targets except at the high school. In that case, 15 of 18 targets were met. Targets not quite met were in Reading and Math for the Economically Disadvantaged subgroup of students, and in Reading for students overall. The state is transitioning from the PSSA test to a new test called the Keystone Exams for high school students. Starnes commented that this change will be much fairer to the students, who will be tested immediately following the school year of instruction. The PSSA, by contrast, tests the 11th graders on subject material they studied in 8th or 9th grade. The Keystone Exam is being required this year for the 11th graders, covering Algebra 1, Literature and Biology. Sophomores must take this exam as well, or as an end-of-course exam where applicable. Freshmen will be tested this year in just Algebra 1 and Literature, or as an end-of-course exam if it applies. All these examinations are done on-line, and there will be about 4,000 exams taken this school year in the high school. Starnes called this a logistical nightmare, where faculty and other staff have had to be flexible to arrange for all the testing. Starnes commented that switching to the Keystone Exam will help with the AYP scores since the test follows the course of instruction. In addition, the principal stressed that scores are not the full measure of acheivement for any of their young people. No test can show the development of a good citizen or a student who learns to communicate well or solve problems. Unfortunately, he said, some judge the school based on published AYP scores, which are only one but an important aspect. “All of our students are valuable,” Starnes said. Dr. Lorraine Kloss, Assistant Superintendent, reported that the state is also transitioning the PSSA to a new set of standards called “Common Core.” The AYP measures school districts on school attendance and graduation rate, test performance and participation in taking the test. For the 2010-2011 school year, attendance was 93% and the graduation rate was 94%. Both measures exceed the Department of Education goals of 90% attendance and 85% graduating. As of June 2012 enrollment stood at 3472, with 54% in the low-income subgroup, 576 enrolled as Special Education students, 11 with limited English proficiency and 70 enrolled as “gifted” students. The No Child Left Behind Act requires that all public school teachers in core academic subjects be “Highly Qualified” in that they are fully certified, have at least a bachelor’s degree, completed a content area major and passed a test in that area, and have completed teacher education course work. At Wallenpaupack, 93.4% of the teachers are highly qualified by that measure. There are 291 classroom teachers in the District.

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