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Graduates might face stiffer requirements

June 15, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Class of 2009 at Waynesboro Area Senior High School will find earning a diploma means meeting more rigorous standards under graduation requirements the school board is expecting to adopt.

The number of credits required - 27.75 - is about the same, but the incoming class of freshmen will be expected to attain a score of advanced or proficient in the PSSA reading and math test to receive a diploma, Assistant Superintendent Gloria Pugliano told the Waynesboro Area School Board on Tuesday.

"Students who attain a score of Basic or Below Basic in the areas of Reading and/or Mathematics in grade 11 will take the PSSA retest in the fall of their senior year," according to a draft of the policy, which will have its first reading at next week's board meeting. Two readings of the policy at board meetings are required before adoption, Board President Larry Glenn said.

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The students who do not reach the level of advanced or proficient will be required to take a class in language arts, math or both "where they must prove their proficiency on an alternative assessment administered by the Waynesboro Area School District," the policy states.

"We're not doing students a favor if they can't read at proficiency level," Pugliano said after the school board's meeting. "We're going to work very, very hard to help every child achieve proficiency" on the state standardized tests, she said.

An emphasis on improving test scores and making the curriculum more rigorous has already paid dividends, said Pugliano.

"We believe kids took it more seriously this year than they did before," she said.

Until two years ago, she said, a student could go through all four years of high school without having to take algebra, yet 42 percent of the 11th grade PSSA math test is algebra.

"We weren't requiring four years of math. We are now," Pugliano said.

Students will receive assistance through the district to bring up their scores through special reading and math programs, but Pugliano said the responsibility ultimately lies with the students, Pugliano said.

"This is called student responsibility," she said.

Student performance goals are tied to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Glenn said. Districts that do not meet those goals or make adequate progress toward them can be penalized, he said. That can include being placed on a state watch list, which the high school is now on, Glenn said.

The more-rigorous standards the district is considering adopting will mean students also can face consequences for failing to make the grade, he said.

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