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Waynesboro school board responds to student assessment test results

March 14, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Results from the first Keystone Exams testing in the Waynesboro Area School District raised the ire of a school board member this week.

“There is a serious problem,” said Billie Finn, Waynesboro Area School Board member.

Assistant Superintendent Wendy Royer presented the board Tuesday with statistics related to student performance on the new Keystone Exams. The state-standardized tests, which are end-of-course assessments, replaced the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) program, and reaching “advanced” or “proficient” classifications on them is a graduation requirement in Waynesboro.

For Algebra 1, 57 percent of ninth-graders, 43 percent of 10th-graders and 52 percent of 11th-graders were advanced or proficient, according to district data.

In literature, 60 percent of 10th-graders reached advanced or proficient. Sixty-eight percent of 11th-graders met advanced or proficient in that subject.

For biology, 50 percent of 10th-graders and 28 percent of 11th-graders were proficient or advanced.

Although the percentages of Waynesboro’s students with proficiency surpassed required state benchmarks, Finn said she was disappointed by the results. She said she wants the percentages to be higher.

“Clearly, this says to me somewhere we’re not communicating with the students,” she said. “These are students ready to go into the world, and they can’t do Algebra 1?”

The 11th-graders who took the algebra test typically had the class three years ago, Royer said. The curriculum was different than today’s curriculum, which is aligned with the test, she said.

Still, the basics should be the same, Finn argued.

A number of the current juniors did not have Algebra 1 because the district previously had an “integrated math” initiative trying to prepare students for the PSSA, high school principal Chris Dennis said.

Also, the tests are more than basic skills, Dennis said. The Algebra 1 test presents equations with more than one or two steps, he said.

Students who did not reach advanced or proficient on the Keystone Exams are eligible for remediation, officials said.

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