The superintendent acknowledged proficiency problems during the 2011-2012 academic year existed not only at Lower Pottsgrove, but at Pottsgrove Middle and Pottsgrove High schools as well.
POTTSTOWN PA – Students in grades 3-5 in the Pottsgrove School District, and specifically at its Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School, have failed overall to meet Pennsylvania’s expectations of their ability to demonstrate proficiency in math and reading, Superintendent Dr. Bradley Landis acknowledged Tuesday (Aug. 14, 2012).
Additionally, Landis said, other specially identified groups of students who attended Lower Pottsgrove, Pottsgrove Middle, and Pottsgrove High schools during the 2011-2012 academic year also did not meet proficiency requirements. As a result, he noted, the state likely will officially notify the district sometime in September those students failed to achieve “adequate yearly progress (AYP)” for the period.
- Parents of children at Lower were alerted to the findings in letters delivered earlier this week. The two-page communication is available for download from The Post’s Resources Page, here.
“They’re certainly most disappointing,” Landis said of the results.
The statistics seem to cast a pall over Pottsgrove’s concerted – and by its school board members’ accounts, expensive – efforts to raise students’ scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) standardized tests. They also put Lower Pottsgrove in the undesirable position of being classified as “School Improvement I” and needing immediate remedial help.
The tests are tools to measure AYP, which is demanded under the federal government’s 10-year-old “No Child Left Behind” Act. Its intent was to raise educational levels – how well kids can read, and how accurately they can calculate – across all grades of students nationwide.
That didn’t happen last year among third-to-fifth graders attending Lower, according to preliminary test data cited in the letter to parents.
In math, where the state demands proficiency from at least 78 percent of students tested, the district-wide level among 3-5 graders was 77.4 percent, sixth-tenths of a point below the minimum. At Lower alone, it was 74.3 percent, or 3.7 percent short of the mark. More worrisome may be the fact that both sets of numbers fell from the previous year (2010-2011), when the group’s district-wide math proficiency was 79.7 percent, and Lower’s was 75.5 percent.
The trend was repeated in reading, where the state target is 81 percent. The district-wide level among 3-5 graders was 76.1 percent, 4.9 percentage points shy. At Lower alone, it was 74.0 percent, or 7 points below acceptable. Again, both sets fell from the previous year, when the group’s district-wide reading proficiency was 77.2 percent, and Lower’s was 75.8 percent.
The data, crunched over several days by Director of Education and Assessment Dr. Todd Davies, does have its bright spots. Among some demographic groups in grades 3-5, math proficiency was as high as 84.6 percent, and reading as high as 81.9 percent.
Pottsgrove has already filed appeals to the state Department of Education, thanks to Davies’ work, that contest some of its proficiency determinations for individuals or demographic subsets, Landis said. Winning those appeals can subtly change the percentages, possibly enough to lift one or more of the numbers to proficiency level. That won’t be known until September at the earliest, when the official and final results are issued from Harrisburg.
Neither the letters or the proficiency failures at Lower were discussed during the district Board of School Directors’ meeting Tuesday night. Landis answered questions about the parents’ letter, and also identified proficiency failures at the middle and high schools, in an interview after the meeting ended.
- Editor’s note: We’re at work now on a story, anticipated for Thursday’s edition of The Post, on why proficiency levels have fallen and how the district hopes to bring them up.
Related (regarding academic performance at Pottsgrove):
- Some Lower Pottsgrove Pupils Fall Below State Standard
- Pottsgrove Future May Hinge On Tests That Start Today
- ‘Grove Headache, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ Hits 10th Year
- Teachers Helping Classes Succeed, Newsletter Contends
- Poor Math, Reading At Pottsgrove High Frustrates Board
- State Says Pottsgrove Schools Make ‘Adequate Yearly Progress’
- Pottsgrove Teachers Review District Accountability Plan
- School Board Criticizes Lack of Students’ Improvement
- Notebook Worthy For March 23, 2009
- Pottsgrove Tops Many In Science, But …
Photo from Google Images