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District shows some adequate progress

August 23, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Chambersburg Area School District students, particularly those attending the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, made gains in state standardized tests in the 2006-07 school year, but five of the district's 20 schools had subgroups that did not achieve the proficiency or adequate yearly progress standards set by state and federal regulations.

The principals of those five schools - Chambersburg Area Senior High School, Faust Junior High School, Chambersburg Area Middle School and Scotland and Hamilton Heights elementary schools - outlined their school improvement plans at Wednesday's school board meeting.

"We owe our special-needs children ... a more realistic experience in the mainstream classroom," Superintendent Joseph Padasak said. "The term for that is inclusion."

Rather than "a pullout program" for many of those students, Padasak said they will take more courses in mainstream classes, with special-needs teachers "co-teaching" with regular teachers.

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The 2007 standards called for 54 percent of students to be proficient in reading and 45 percent in math. Overall, high school reading proficiency increased from 63.8 percent to 71.4 percent, and math proficiency from 44.6 percent to 60.8 percent.

For career and technology students, who now take both career and academic courses at the center, reading proficiency increased 5 percent to 43 percent among the 11th-graders tested last year, and jumped from 18.5 percent to 41 percent in math.

Chambersburg Area Middle School and Scotland Elementary are in warning status for not making adequate yearly progress (AYP) for the first time, while Hamilton Heights is at the School Improvement I stage, having not met AYP for two years. Faust is at the higher level of Corrective Action I, and the high school is at Corrective Action II, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Unlike smaller school districts in Franklin County, Chambersburg has many demographic subgroups of 40 or more students, Padasak said. The failure of one subgroup to achieve federal No Child Left Behind Act targets for proficiency or AYP means an entire school is placed on a warning list, he said.

Special education, economically disadvantaged, black, Hispanic and English-as-a-second-language students are among the subgroups within the district. Padasak said some districts might have a dozen ESL students, while Chambersburg has about 500 students needing help learning English.

"Our secondary schools have to meet 22 to 23 targets," Padasak said, adding that four of the five other high schools in the county have to meet only nine targets to stay off the list. Chambersburg met 19 of its 21 targets, according to district figures.

Along with co-teaching, the principals outlined plans that include more individualized instruction, faculty training, mentors and peer tutors, and greater emphasis on writing and nonfiction reading.

A bright spot for the district was that Stevens and King Street elementary schools, where 95 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged, hit their AYP targets and were moved off the warning list, said Sylvia Rockwood, the district's director of information services.

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