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Waynesboro students doing well on standardized tests, principals say

December 06, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Waynesboro Area School District students are performing well on statewide standardized tests in math and reading, principals told the school board Tuesday.

Elementary school principals talked to the school board about student achievement Tuesday. Last month, Waynesboro Area Senior High School Principal Christopher Dennis offered a similar report.   

Pennsylvania schools are asked to make “adequate yearly progress,” a classification aligned with the federal No Child Left Behind initiative. A major component of adequate yearly progress, or AYP, is student performance on state tests.

“The four elementary schools all made adequate yearly progress last year, which is a real achievement,” said Sherian Diller, director of elementary education and principal of Mowrey Elementary School.

Summitview Elementary School had the highest average growth rate in math, as compared to 2009-10, in the regional intermediate unit. It ranked 16th out of 1,898 schools in Pennsylvania when measuring growth in math, Diller said.

Hooverville Elementary School had the highest percentage in math and reading proficiency in Franklin County, she said.

Dennis shared information comparing Waynesboro Area Senior High School to the high schools in the Chambersburg Area, Fannett-Metal, Greencastle-Antrim and Tuscarora school districts.

In math, 59.5 percent of Waynesboro high school students tested reached “proficient” or “advanced” classifications. That was the highest percentage in the county, according to Dennis’ data.

In reading, Waynesboro also ranked highest, with 69.8 percent of students in the same classifications, his data shows.

Despite its ranking in the county, Waynesboro Area Senior High School still missed the math benchmark of 67 percent proficiency for 2010-11. That missed benchmark landed the high school on a state warning list.

At the elementary level, district officials are especially focusing on fifth-grade reading performance, Summitview Elementary School Principal Aaron Taylor said.

The fifth-grade test is typically the hardest for students, and Waynesboro’s elementary schools, in general, hovered right around the 72 percent benchmark for reading proficiency, he said.

Another initiative emphasizes “fact fluency” to determine whether younger students have memorized the ways numbers add, subtract, multiply and divide, Taylor said.

Jean Purnell, director of special education for the district, explained to the board how a program called AIMSweb tracks students to ensure they’re making a year’s worth of progress each year. The final line of the report tells educators about the students’ rate of improvement.

Technology is improving in classrooms, some of which are using iPads in small-group instruction, Diller said. Each classroom would benefit from having its own LCD projector, document camera and interactive whiteboard, she said.

Mowrey Elementary School sixth-grade teacher Catherine Byers demonstrated how she uses Beyond Question brand “clicker” remotes in the classroom. She used a grant to purchase the clickers, which are used by students to answer questions and see results on a screen.

“You can have an immediate discussion with them using the system,” she said.

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