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Two Fulton Co. school districts recognized by Rendell

Every school within districts met every target measured by the state

Every school within districts met every target measured by the state

September 03, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. -- Two Fulton County school districts made such strong improvements on their standardized test scores that they received recognition from Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in August.

Southern Fulton and Central Fulton school districts sent students and staff members to the state capitol, where they stood behind Rendell and comedian/actor Bill Cosby during a press conference. Southern Fulton ranked third and Central Fulton ranked 15th for the progress they made between 2002 and 2009.

"We've made some big jumps in data in the past few years. ... We feel we haven't hit our top scores yet," said Dwayne Northcraft, Central Fulton's director of education.

Not only did all three Fulton County school districts (Central Fulton, Southern Fulton and Forbes Road) meet Adequate Yearly Progress for 2009, every school within those districts met every target measured by the state.

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Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) evaluates reading and math test scores as well as graduation and attendance rates.

Southern Fulton Superintendent Ralph Scott attributed his school district's success to several things. He listed staff, teacher and school board dedication; increased focus on special education programs; hardworking students; and supportive parents.

"I've been blessed with having a great staff, particularly the principals and special education director," Scott said.

Both Central Fulton and Southern Fulton align their curriculums to standards put forth by the state. Teachers cover subjects they expect to be featured on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exams.

Northcraft and Scott said the schools are not teaching to the test, rather designing lesson plans how the state wants them to be.

"For many years, schools would take a textbook and teach from that textbook," Northcraft said, saying now the schools teach the main ideas that need to be taught and provide children with better critical thinking skills.

Southern Fulton does not do 4Sight testing, which can give educators an idea about how students will score on the yearly state tests. Scott said he fears 4Sight would take away too much teaching time.

Central Fulton, though, does "extensive monitoring and testing," including 4Sight, Northcraft said. Information gathered from those assessments is used to determine which tutoring practices must be incorporated in regular classroom time, he said.

Southern Fulton established "motivational trips" for students who scored "proficient" or "advanced" on their state tests. Central Fulton played a seven-minute video from the Capitol trip for the student body.

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