Ephrata schools get good report cards

By on October 12, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

With a strong showing, Ephrata Area School District administrators took a moment to show its report card to the school board last month.

With its PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) test results and rated against the state-issued Adequate Yearly Progress or AYP, EASD schools passed with flying colors.

"The schools within the Ephrata Area School District met 91 of the 93 AYP targets set forth by the state," reported Assistant District Superintendent Dr. Brian M. Troop. "At the Ephrata High School, the percentage of students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs) who scored in the proficient or better range fell short of the 67 percent set by the state. At the Washington Education Center, a participation target was missed due to a student’s inability to complete sections of the reading assessment."

AYP is a key measure of school performance established by the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The Pennsylvania Department of Education evaluates all Pennsylvania public schools and districts annually for Adequate Yearly Progress based on the results of the spring PSSA testing cycle and measures of participation, attendance, and graduation.

For a school to meet AYP measures, students in the school must meet goals or targets in three areas: (1) Attendance (for schools that do not have a graduating class) or Graduation (for schools that have a high school graduating class), (2) Academic Performance, and (3) Test Participation. Schools are evaluated for test performance and test participation for all students in the tested grades (3-8 and 11) in the school. Each subgroup represented by 40 or more students in the school must meet the AYP measures. The measurement of success by subgroup, as required by AYP, provides insight toward closing the achievement gap, and measurement against the 41 potential NCLB indicators points out specific areas where schools may need to improve.

District measures are assessed in three grade spans: Grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. To meet AYP measures in Academic Performance or Test Participation, the district needs to achieve all goals or targets for both subjects in one grade span only.

According to Troop, work is already underway at the high school and within the special education department to insure that students with IEP’s are supported in attaining the key mathematical concepts and skills contained within the Pennsylvania Academic Standards. Additionally, plans are in place for administration of the PSSA to students in the Washington program that will better insure that all sections of the assessment are completed.

"Two of the charts on the attachment contain the percentages of our students who scored in the 4 proficiency categories on Math and Reading, respectively," commented Troop with regard to the district’s report card. "One highlight of the Math data is the high percentages of student who scored in the advanced categories at many of our grade-levels. Those percentages are a nice indicator that our overall math program is helping many students reach well beyond grade-level performance. In the area of reading, we have some nice results in some grade-levels and some data that indicate where we need to take a closer look at how well our instructional program is performing."

Ephrata is one of 12 school districts in Lancaster County whose students’ PSSA scores were higher than in 2010. Ephrata’s combined reading, writing, science and math scores rose a total of about 10 percentage points, as did Hempfield’s and Lampeter-Strasburg’s, while Conestoga Valley and Solanco’s scores rose about 12 points. Three districts — Donegal, Octorara and Pequea Valley — experienced slight declines ranging between two to five percentage points.

A summary of the results of two additional assessments were provided to the board to help provide further insight into how well students skills in the areas of reading and mathematics are growing in comparison to national norms. Scores on these two nationally normed tests (the GRADE for Reading and GMADE for Math) indicate that all grade levels from 1st through 11th have achieved average growth values of a year or more in both subject areas.

For more information on the Ephrata Area School District, visit their website at easdpa.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes comments, questions and suggestions at gpklinger@yahoo.com.

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