Tests scores show improvement in Waynesboro

September 22, 2004|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro Area School District elementary students scored well on Pennsylvania System of State Assessment tests last year, but the standards imposed by the federal No Child Left Behind Act will become increasingly difficult to meet over the next decade, administration officials said.

Fifth-graders in all four elementary schools met the standards of No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, last year, according to a presentation at Tuesday's board meeting by Sherian Diller, the district's director of elementary education. The NCLB standard was 46 percent for math and 54 percent for reading for 2004, according to the presentation.

Fairview Elementary had the highest average in both categories with 85 percent of students performing at the proficient or advanced levels in math and 77 percent in reading, according to the figures. The lowest proficiency level in math was 71 percent of students at Summitview and the lowest for reading was 56 percent at Mowrey.


The NCLB standards, however, will require schools to achieve proficiency rates of 62 percent in math and 68 percent in reading by 2007, according to Diller. The standards increase again in 2010 to 78 percent in math and 82 percent in reading, she said.

"I think 85 percent is achievable. I worry when we get to 100 percent," said Diller. That comes in 2014 when NCLB requires all students to be proficient in both subjects.

"You hear some negative things about No Child Left Behind, but it puts some accountability out there," Diller told the board.

Board President Larry Glenn said it is likely that some form of alternative assessment could be in place for the lowest performing students before 2014. Diller said such testing is already in place for special needs students from Waynesboro and other county districts that attend the Franklin Learning Center.

Superintendent Barry Dallara said the elementary schools have shown steady improvements in scores on the state's standardized tests since 1995-96. As recently as 1998-99, he said most of the schools would not have met the standards now required by No Child Left Behind.

"We're going to have to have everyone understand the significance and importance of the testing," Dallara said. "It might be appropriate by then to tie the proficiency requirements to the graduation requirement" for high school, he said.

The tests are administered in the third, fifth, eighth and 11th grades, according to Diller. She said the third-grade results have not been released by the state yet. Last week Assistant Superintendent Gloria Pugliano said the secondary test scores will be reviewed at October and November board meetings.

"We think there is a strong correlation between improved test scores and remedial programs," said Jean Purnell, the district's director of special education. Those include a number of classrooms and after-school programs, extended kindergarten and a four-week summer academy, she said.

"We are basically able to close that achievement gap at a very early period," Diller said of extended day kindergarten. While most kindergarten students attend class for half a day, she said about 48 students attend kindergarten all day to improve their skills, half of them at Fairview.

The Herald-Mail Articles