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Overall, Franklin Co. school districts made AYP

Some schools had issues with subgroups like special-education

September 14, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
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WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Franklin County, Pa., school districts overall made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2009-10, but some schools had issues with subgroups like special-education students or those who are economically disadvantaged.

Pennsylvania's AYP is tied to the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, which calls for all students to be "proficient" on grade-level, standardized tests by 2014. AYP status was released Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

For Pennsylvania schools, 56 percent of students were supposed to be ranked "proficient" or "advanced" in math on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests taken in the spring. The benchmarks call for 63 percent to rank "proficient" or "advanced" in reading.

Students in grades three to eight take the PSSAs, as do students in grade 11.

AYP also considers graduation and attendance rates.

The Waynesboro Area School District met all targets for 2009-10, after missing high school benchmarks the previous year.

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"We're very pleased with making AYP," Waynesboro Superintendent James Robertson said.

The district will be using AIMSweb for elementary schoolchildren starting this year, Robertson said. That data program will further help school officials evaluate each child's needs, he said.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District met all targets but one. Elementary-aged, special-education students did not meet AYP for reading; they used a "safe harbor" provision, which is based on improvements, to meet AYP for math.

"For the most part, we're headed in the right direction. We showed overall improvements in our PSSA scores," Greencastle-Antrim Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover said.

In addition to concerns with the special-education scores, Greencastle-Antrim district officials saw issues with test performance among fifth-graders. Hoover said that mimics a state trend with fifth-grade scores, but it's something he wants to watch.

The Chambersburg Area School District continued to have problems with AYP at the high school level, with special-education students not meeting targets in reading or math.

Chambersburg Area Senior High School remains in "corrective action II" status, which is the lowest among state rankings. The state already sent three "distinguished educators" to help Chambersburg improve its test performance.

"It's such a tough pill to swallow that the high school didn't make it (because of IEP students' scores) because in so many areas, they did," district spokeswoman Catherine Dusman said.

Benjamin Chambers Elementary School, which opened in 2008-09, did not make AYP due to special-education scores.

Dusman said district officials are consistently reminded of the ever-increasing requirements for proficiency leading up to 2014.

"We have those targets on every single board in our administration building. We're doing everything we can to be as accomplished as we can," Dusman said, adding that the district is still committed to looking at behavioral and social needs that comprise "the whole child."

Robertson said he's looking forward to PSSAs being replaced by Keystone Exams, which are in development by the state. Those tests required for graduation will be more subject-specific for high-schoolers.

The education department has not yet released PSSA scores, graduation rates or attendance rates to the public, instead only indicating if schools met AYP.

Tuscarora School District in the Mercersburg, Pa., area met all targets, except reading and math scores for economically disadvantaged students at James Buchanan High School. The Fannett-Metal School District in northern Franklin County met all targets other than those for economically disadvantaged students' reading scores at the elementary school.

All Fulton County schools met all targets. In September 2009, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell recognized Southern Fulton and Central Fulton school districts for progress made between 2002 and 2009.

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