SAT scoring of Cocalico students extolled

By on September 23, 2015


Cocalico High School students are taking more Advanced Placement exams than ever and continue to outpace their statewide peers on the SAT, according to new numbers announced at the Monday, Sept. 21, school board meeting.

Ella Musser, assistant to the superintendent, reported that among 2015 Cocalico graduates, the average SAT score was 515 in critical reading, 526 in math, and 497 in writing. Sixty percent of the class, or 157 students, took the college placement exam.

“In all of the areas, local scores are outperforming or at least equaling the state level,” she said.

Nationally, scores dropped significantly to 495 in reading, 511 in math, and 484 in writing. That follows two years of essentially flat scores, according to the College Board, which administers the tests.

In Cocalico, another 197 students took Advanced Placement exams across nine subject areas. If students earn a three or better on the tests, which are scored on a scale of one to five, they are eligible to earn college credit. Cocalico students earned threes or higher on 80 percent of tests taken.

Though the percentage of students taking the tests dropped from 83 percent in 2013-14 to 77 percent last school year, Musser said that reflects a larger number of students taking the courses themselves. Last year, a district record 254 students were enrolled.

Musser also reported performance on the state’s Keystone Exams, which will be required for graduation starting in 2017. In algebra, 84.98 percent of students performed at the proficient or advanced level; the numbers hit 83.14 percent in biology, and 88.28 percent in literature.

Musser did not yet have results from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, which are given annually to elementary school students in grades three an higher.

Earlier this month, state officials announced that the U.S. Department of Educations had granted a one-year waiver on the using Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests to judge school performance.

Musser said the results would still be available in the next few weeks, but that they would not count against teachers or individual schools. The statewide results are widely expected to show a drop in proficiency in math and English because they tested last year’s students against rigorous new standards.

In other action at Monday’s meeting, the board approved the expulsion of two students, including a ninth-grade boy who was charged with making terroristic threats last week.

East Cocalico Police said the student was responsible for leaving a threatening message on a bathroom wall at the high school. School officials discovered the message on a Thursday and reported it to police immediately.

After the meeting, Superintendent Bruce Sensenig praised administrators’ efforts to determine the student’s identity through security cameras and hand-writing samples.

“We take these kinds of incidents very seriously,” he said.

Sensenig said a second male student, a junior, was expelled for a weapon and drug paraphernalia violation.

The board also voted to extend its busing contract with Brightbill Transportation. The company has served Cocalico for 20 years; the new contract covers another 10. Sensenig said the company had a great service record, including supplying high-quality drivers and a fleet of near-new buses.

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