LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Pottsgrove School District parents got an unofficial, and somewhat sobering, look Saturday (Sept. 17, 2016) at statistics showing what were said to be elementary and middle school grade-level performance in the 2016 round of standardized testing provided under the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, known as PSSAs.
Typed tables that filled a sheet of district letterhead indicated students in two of six grades who were tested for English and language arts met or exceeded state averages for subject proficiency, and that three of six grades scored similarly better in mathematics. By comparison, however, four of six grades in English and language arts, three of six in mathematics, and both grades tested in science lagged behind state averages.
Parents who viewed the sheet in a discussion forum on Facebook voiced concerns. No statement issued by the district accompanied the letterhead sheet.
On a grade-by-grade basis, comparing 2014-2015 to 2015-2016 results, five of six grades performed better this year than last on the PSSA mathematics test; and one of six improved its year-over-year scores in English and language arts.
Results for the 2015-2016 testing period are not yet available on the state PSSA web page, nor could they be immediately found on the district website.
An official release of the figures, and the explanations or reasons for them, are likely to be topics for discussion during Board of School Directors’ meetings later this month. Administrators also are likely to suggest ways to improve declining scores and a lack of content mastery, which have been subjects of controversy in Pottsgrove for several years.
District Acting Superintendent Dr. William Shirk said during the board’s meeting Tuesday (Sept. 13) that its teachers were anticipated to review their students’ test data during in-service sessions held last week. A meeting of the board’s Curriculum and Student Affairs Committee is planned for Tuesday (Sept. 20) at 7:30 p.m. in the district office, 1301 Kauffman Rd., at which PSSA results may be addressed.
Pottsgrove earlier this year (May 2016) retained the services of ECRA Group Inc. of Schaumburg IL to assess PSSA results and other data and produce analytics that could help the district pinpoint performance problems, determine the effectiveness of teaching strategies and programs, and recommend potential solutions.
Just how, if at all, services ECRA is providing can offer any immediate assistance with this year’s results is unknown.