Octorara Previews School Performance Profile Scores

f03c99e64b57f0b4fcea91a8e3ade10fThe Octorara Area School District Education Committee held its monthly on October 27, 2014. The focus of the meeting was Octorara’s 2013-2014 School Performance Profile scores.

Last year, Pennsylvania received a waiver to eliminate school performance evaluations using the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) model, and replace it with their own new Pennsylvania School Performance Profile (SPP). The new evaluation system has been touted as more comprehensive, but the purpose remains the same… to hold Districts/LEAs accountable to students, their parents, teachers, and the community.

Please note, Pennsylvania no longer scores Districts, but I provide District Averages to create an idea about District overall performance.

SPP Academic Score
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center 77.80 82.14 4.34 5.58%
Elementary School 75.10 74.90 -0.20 -0.27%
Intermediate School 72.80 75.00 2.20 3.02%
Jr/Sr High School 72.20 65.60 -6.60 -9.14%
District Average 74.48 74.41 -0.06 -0.09%

My analysis of SPP, last year, noted school scores look and are broken down much like test scores, and do lend themselves easily to a letter grade. A school with a score of 70 meets minimum standards, or could be described as having C- or 1.7 GPA.

This year, the Primary Learning Center receives a Gold Star for increasing their performance from 77.80 to 82.14, taking their grade from a C+ to a B-. The improvement was an increase of 5.58%.

Unfortunately, the Jr/Sr High School finds itself struggling as their score dramatically drops from 72.20 to 65,60, or going from a C- to a D.

The net result is a District Average that remains flat and, with a score of 74.41, maintains a solid C.

Math/Algebra – PSSA/Keystone
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center 73.63 77.01 3.38 4.59%
Elementary School 75.56 75.35 -0.21 -0.28%
Intermediate School 79.52 76.15 -3.37 -4.24%
Jr/Sr High School 75.52 69.63 -5.89 -7.80%
District Average 76.06 74.54 -1.52 -2.00%

Achievement scores from PSSA & Keystone tests hit the Jr/Sr High School hard, dropping by 7.8%, and taking the school below minimum standards.

Math/Algebra – Academic Growth
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School 66.00 74.00 8.00 12.12%
Intermediate School 100.00 100.00 0.00 0.00%
Jr/Sr High School 77.00 66.67 -10.33 -13.42%
District Average 81.00 80.22 -0.78 -0.96%

Looking at the “Math/Algebra – Academic Growth” numbers, the first thing you may ask is, “How did the Elementary School increase by more than 12% in Growth, but Achievement was flat?”

Achievement scores compare the group tested in 2014 with the group tested in 2013. This is the number you want to look at to see if the the Elementary School’s reading program is continually improving. If it is, one would expect (despite some fluctuations) that this number for the Reading Achievement will go up over time.

Growth scores compare the same group. This number represents how much learning did the 2014 group receive. Therefore, while the Elementary School flat-lined Achievement scores, it could be said the 2014 group had much farther to go (needed more learning) to get there.

The Jr/Sr High School got a double-whammy with their Growth score dropping by 13.42% in addition to the Achievement score drop.

Reading/Literature – PSSA/Keystone
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center 71.82 70.69 -1.13 -1.57%
Elementary School 71.63 67.79 -3.84 -5.36%
Intermediate School 65.96 62.50 -3.46 -5.25%
Jr/Sr High School 74.27 71.88 -2.39 -3.22%
District Average 70.92 68.22 -2.70 -3.81%

Reading/Literature Achievement scores dropped across the board for the District, with both the Elementary School & Intermediate Schools performing below standards.

Reading/Literature – Academic Growth
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School 73.00 70.00 -3.00 -4.11%
Intermediate School 76.00 70.00 -6.00 -7.89%
Jr/Sr High School 80.00 50.00 -30.00 -37.50%
District Average 76.33 63.33 -13.00 -17.03%

Academic Growth for Reading/Literature are deeply disappointing, but do seem to explain the drop in Achievement scores. Depending on where a group of students is academically, Growth is not going to necessary going to move the needle on Achievement scores. However, a massive decline in Academic Growth represents a massive decline in learning.

3rd Grade Reading – PSSA
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Elementary School 72.07 70.69 -1.38 -1.91%

Those who regularly follow this blog know I am particularly interested in 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency. Education Professionals have generally come to the agreement, based on extensive research, that 3rd Grade Reading is a make it or break it bench mark for future Academic performance.

The research tells us that up until 3rd Grade children are learning to read. After 3rd Grade, children are reading to learn. At least half of all printed 4th Grade curriculum is incomprehensible to a student not reading proficiently, and failing to be a proficient reader has a compounding effect on the rest of a child’s academic development.

Octorara barely meeting standards with the 2013-2014 3rd Grade Reading can be used to predict this cohort’s future performance. It makes all future learning more difficult.

Science/Biology – PSSA/Keystone
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School 79.66 75.96 -3.70 -4.64%
Intermediate School
Jr/Sr High School 42.75 36.78 -5.97 -13.96%
District Average 61.21 56.37 -4.84 -7.90%

Science/Biology Achievement scores is another area that has dropped across the board for the District, with the Jr/Sr High not only putting out a very disappointing 36.78 but a disheartening 13.96% decline.

The District overall continues to receive a failing grade for Science/Biology.

Science/Biology – Academic Growth
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School 71.00 71.00 0.00 0.00%
Intermediate School
Jr/Sr High School 53.50 56.50 3.00 5.61%
District Average 62.25 63.75 1.50 2.41%

Despite the Science/Biology Achievement scores, we do see a reasonable 5.61% increase to Academic Growth at the Jr/Sr High School. However, we are losing the battle with Science/Biology.

It is my belief that the only way to turn the tide in Science is with Reading and Math Achievement. Children need these basic skills in order to be able to perform well in Science. If a student cannot read and comprehend the material, there is little a Science teacher can do. If a student does not have good math skills, they will not have the analytical skills necessary for Science.

Writing – PSSA/Keystone
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School
Intermediate School 48.95 61.76 12.81 26.17%
Jr/Sr High School 71.00 67.53 -3.47 -4.89%
District Average 59.98 64.65 4.67 7.79%

The Intermediate School provided the District with an incredible improvement to their Writing scores, but still well below standards, along with the Jr/Sr High School also sliding below.

Overall, District performance showed a 7.79% improvement, with a pathway to meeting minimum standards.

Writing – Academic Growth
2013 2014 Difference % Change
Primary Learning Center
Elementary School
Intermediate School 50.00 51.00 1.00 2.00%
Jr/Sr High School 51.00 50.00 -1.00 -1.96%
District Average 50.50 50.50 0.00 0.00%

Academic Growth for Writing has remained flat for the District, and far below standards. It is another example of Growth improvements being essential to improving Achievement scores.

More To Come

The Education Committee did not review all the data points that go into Octorara’s 2013-2014 School Performance Profile scores. Expect the state to release the full reports sometime in November.

Concluding Thoughts

The Administration, at the Education Committee Meeting, again reiterated a statement we have heard repeatedly over the last year, that their goal is to raise Academic Performance to the point that it does not matter what the State Standards are or will become.

What we know is most Districts that did well under No Child Left Behind’s Adequate Yearly Progress are also doing well under the more comprehensive Pennsylvania School Performance Profile.  Go back to my blog about the Education Committee Meeting exactly a year ago, on October 28, 2013, and we notice we are hearing very similar language being used.

Octorara continues to bet on Learning Focus to make the difference. We are in year 2 of a 5 year plan to get Octorara’s performance where it needs to be. We will need to see how things look this time next year. The District needs to be focused on moving the ball down the field, and putting numbers on the board.


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