Analyzing Octorara’s SPP Score

On Friday, the Pennsylvania School Performance Profile website went live. While not all Chester County school districts had their information online at the time, Octorara was one of the lucky ones. Octorara acknowledged the SPP scores in the news release stating, “Octorara Area School District is pleased to report that all schools’ SPP scores met or exceeded the standard.”

The Score Card

SPP Score chart

You will note that that school scores look and are broken down much like test scores. As a result, they lend themselves easily to a letter grade.

  • A / 90-100
  • B / 80-89.9
  • C / 70-79.9
  • D / 60-69.9
  • F / <60

Octorara’s Overall Scores:

  • Jr/Sr High School: 72.2 / C
  • Elementry Sch: 75.1 / C
  • Intermediate Sch: 72.8 / C
  • Octorara PLC: 77.8 / C
  • Overall Average: 74.5 / C

While the new School Performance Profile does not score the District as a whole, like was done with Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), we can average out the scores. This shows the District with an overall score of 74.5, or a solid “C”.

Octorara Area JSHS (2012 – 2013)

Octorara JSHS scoreAs we break down the Octorara Area JSHS data, the overall score does not give the full picture. The school received 62.77 total points, which translates into a Calculated Score of 69.74 or a “D”. However, the SPP Scoring system provides for extra credit, and this extra credit bumps the Octorara Area JSHS score to 72.2 or a “C”.

Beyond this score, we need to look deeper into the strengths and the weaknesses. Certain data points will not be a surprise to regular readers. We have poured over a lot of data points, over the last ten months, beyond AYP and PSSA scores. Looking at the big picture has been a central idea when we argue effective use of tax dollars invested.


  • Industry Standards-Based Competency Assessments 92.11 / A
  • Attendance Rate 91.66 / A


  • Science/Biology – Percent Proficient or Advanced on PSSA/Keystone 42.75 / F
  • Science/Biology – Meeting Annual Academic Growth Expectations 53.50 / F
  • Writing – Meeting Annual Academic Growth Expectations 51.00 / F

Not included, this first year, are the various data points surrounding Indicators of Closing the Achievement Gap. Presumably, the 2012-13 scores will be used as the initial baseline discussed in Pennsylvania Department of Education literature. Failing to score well in these areas next Fall will have dramatic consequences.

Grade 3 Reading – Percent Proficient or Advanced on PSSA

I am avoiding doing a long analysis of each of the District’s schools to keep this post a reasonable size. However, I do want to touch on Grade 3 Reading. Over the last few months, caused by my independent research, 3rd Grade Reading has become a pet peeve.

Reading is fundamental to all other education. Research reveals that reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a “make-or-break” benchmark in a child’s educational development. Academic success can be predicted with reasonable accuracy by knowing a child’s reading skills by the end of third grade. A child who is not reading proficiently by 3rd grade has a high probability of never reading at grade level, and is at greater risk of having discipline issues, dropping out, and failing to graduate.

Octorara’s Grade 3 Reading score is 72.07 or a low “C” grade. If we want to know why the Jr/Sr High School is only scoring a 74.27 in Reading/Literature, and a 71.00 in Writing, all we have to do is look at the Grade 3 Reading score. It is neither complicated, nor confusing. Whatever is being done at the PLC, to teach children to read, is either not effective or not enough.

The District’s Analysis

It has been announced, Octorara will provide their own look at their School Performance profile data during the October 14th School Board Work Session. The public meeting will begin at 7:30 PM in the JRHS Multi-purpose room at 228 Highland Road, Atglen, PA 19310.

It was stated in the District’s news release, “The meetings are open to the public and we invite all stakeholders to join us in conversation about our successes, strengths and the District’s plan for continued student growth.”

The big question, in my mind, will not be about the data. The data is not a surprise. The big question will be, “Will the District’s presentation be a forthright analysis or spin?” If the presentation focuses more on “this is how parents and taxpayers should think,” rather than “this is what the District needs to improve,” it will become a big waste of time. Mediocre should not be praised as success.

Stay Tuned

As more data from other Chester County districts become available, I will be making the same kind of comparisons that I have done in the past. As it looks now, Octorara is an average to below-average school district with the highest taxes in the area, and a much higher than average per-student cost… but we knew that.


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