The Daily Local News Compares Chester County High Schools

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The Daily Local News Compares Chester County High Schools

On April 25th, The Daily Local News compared and ranked Chester County High Schools based on analysis done by U.S. News and World Reports. Using publically available data and statistics, the analysis comparing Chester County High Schools created a list not all that dissimilar to when one compares the Building Level Academic Scores from the state’s School Performance Profiles.

Comparison of Chester County High Schools

1. Conestoga High School
2. Unionville High School
3. Great Valley High School
4. Avon Grove High School
5. West Chester East High School
6. West Chester Bayard Rustin High School
7. Kennett High School
8. Downingtown High School West Campus
9. Phoenixville Area High School
10. Octorara Area Junior/Senior High School
11. Coatesville Area Senior High School

As in previous analyses, the only school district with a worse performance than Octorara is Coatesville. Of course, this is not breaking news. We have known for a long time about Octorara’s declining academic performance.

However, what I do question is, why The Daily Local News did not list all Chester County high schools? For instance, Downingtown High School East Campus and Owen J Roberts High School also received scorecards from U.S. News, but the media outlet chose not to list them. Continue reading

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Is Octorara Falling Further Behind in Education Achievement and Growth?

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Is Octorara Falling Further Behind in Education Achievement and Growth?

We have been waiting for the Pennsylvania Department of Education to release their School Performance Profile Scores. At the end of September, PDE did release PSSA and Keystone scores. However, they were still working on the SPP scores which take into account more data points, including academic growth, graduation rates, SAT/ACT college readiness, and more. Those of us who are concerned about Octorara;s academic achievement and growth, and follow these numbers, are going to be disappointed but not surprised.

Today’s post shows the building level scores, makes some comparisons with other districts, and gives those data points that I feel are the most disturbing. However, I encourage every parent and taxpayer to review each report on the state website. This article only touches on a few of Octotara’s shortcomings and it is not a complete picture. It is best that you personally evaluate these reports unfiltered, without the political spin and Clintonesque language used by some Administrators and some other members of the Octorara Area School Board.

Octorara’s Building Level Academic Scores

Key takeaways from the Octorara’s Academic Performance reports:

  • Each school FAILED to meet the state minimum score of 70 – Currently, the PLC’s number is not being reported.
  • District-wide, Octorara is FAILING at Math and Reading – The average combined building score for both PSSA and Keystone tests is 45.68 for Math/Algebra and 59.78 for ELA/Literature. Regardless, none of the buildings reached the minimum standard of 70.
  • Octorara starts out well with Science but quickly drops like a rock. – The Elementary School (3rd and 4th Grades) received a score of 80 for Science, but the score drops to 51.16 for Science/Biology at the JSHS.
  • Octorara 3rd Grade Reading is not improving – The 3rd Grade Reading Benchmark is critical for student success, and the District falls short of minimum standards.

Continue reading

Chesco High School Academic Score Comparisons – 2014

paschoolperformanceNow that the School Performance Profile website has been updated, I can begin making comparisons from SPP information, starting with High Schools. I included in this list neighboring Pequea Valley and Solanco High Schools from Lancaster County.

The first look is a full break down, sorted by highest to lowest scoring, followed by smaller lists that compare High Schools in neighboring school districts, and then those with the highest numbers of Economically Disadvantaged.

High School SPP – 2013 SPP – 2014 Difference % Change
Downingtown STEM Academy 101.4 101.4 0 0.00%
Unionville HS (Unionville- 97.9 98.2 0.3 0.31%
West Chester Henderson HS 95.7 98 2.3 2.35%
Downingtown Area HS East 95.5 97.3 1.8 1.85%
West Chester Bayard Rustin 94.3 96.9 2.6 2.68%
West Chester East HS 91.1 95.2 4.1 4.31%
Great Valley HS 97.6 94.5 -3.1 -3.28%
Downingtown Area HS West 93 94.1 1.1 1.17%
Conestoga SHS (T/E) 95.5 90.9 -4.6 -5.06%
Avon Grove HS 83.5 87.6 4.1 4.68%
Owen J. Roberts HS 87.9 87 -0.9 -1.03%
Kennett HS 88.9 86.1 -2.8 -3.25%
Pequea Valley HS (Lancaster) 82.7 83.2 0.5 0.60%
Phoenixville Area HS 74.4 75.7 1.3 1.72%
Solanco HS (Lancaster) 71.6 70.1 -1.5 -2.14%
Octorara Area JSHS 72.2 65.6 -6.6 -10.06%
Oxford Area HS 72.9 63.1 -9.8 -15.53%
Coatesville Area SHS 65 62.5 -2.5 -4.00%

Continue reading

High School Academic Score Comparisons

paschoolperformanceAs promised in October, now with the update of the School Performance Profile website, I will begin making additional comparisons from SPP information, starting with High Schools. I included in this list neighboring Pequea Valley and Solanco High Schools, from Lancaster County.

The first look is a full break down, sorted by highest to lowest scoring. This is then followed by smaller lists that compare High Schools with the highest numbers of Economically Disadvantaged, English Language Learners, and Special Education students.

High School			   Academic Score
Downingtown STEM Academy		101.4
Unionville HS (Unionville-Chadds Ford)	97.9
Great Valley HS				97.6
West Chester Henderson HS		95.7
Downingtown Area HS East		95.5
Conestoga SHS (Tredyffrin/Easttown)	95.5
West Chester Bayard Rustin HS		94.3
Downingtown Area HS West		93.0
West Chester East HS			91.1
Kennett HS				88.9
Owen J. Roberts HS			87.9
Avon Grove HS				83.5
Pequea Valley HS (Lancaster County)	82.7
Phoenixville Area HS			74.4
Oxford Area HS				72.9
Octorara Area JSHS			72.2
Solanco HS (Lancaster County)		71.6
Coatesville Area SHS			65.0

Highest Economically Disadvantaged
This list includes all High Schools with a percentage of Economically Disadvantaged Students greater than 25%.

High School			   Academic Score      Econ Dis
Kennett HS				88.9		29.82%
Pequea Valley HS (Lancaster County)	82.7		30.26%
Oxford Area HS				72.9		36.09%
Octorara Area JSHS			72.2		33.39%
Solanco HS (Lancaster County)		71.6		32.58%
Coatesville Area SHS			65.0		48.98%

Highest English Language Learners
Included here are High Schools that have a percentage of English Language Learners greater than 1%.

High School			   Academic Score    Eng Lrners
West Chester Henderson HS		95.7		1.53%
West Chester East HS			91.1		1.81%
Kennett HS				88.9		9.03%
Avon Grove HS				83.5		2.35%
Phoenixville Area HS			74.4		1.07%
Oxford Area HS				72.9		3.22%
Coatesville Area SHS			65.0		1.78%

Highest Special Education
Below are the High Schools with a percentage of Special Education Students greater than 15%.

High School			   Academic Score      Spec Ed
Conestoga SHS (Tredyffrin/Easttown)	95.5		15.02%
Kennett HS				88.9		15.42%
Coatesville Area SHS			65.0		16.32%
Owen J. Roberts HS			87.9		16.78%
Octorara Area JSHS			72.2		16.97%
Downingtown Area HS East		95.5		18.29%
Downingtown Area HS West		93.0		20.26%
Oxford Area HS				72.9		33.55%

Conclusions
The argument against comparing Octorara to all other Chester County schools is always that it is not comparing apples to apples. Octorara has obvious challenges that the Unionville-Chadds Ford Area School District just does not have.

From the Pennsylvania School Performance data, the High Schools that look the most like Octorara are Oxford Area High School and Solanco High School (Lancaster County), with Kennett High School and Pequea Valley High School (Lancaster County) coming real close. Kennett has their own unique challenges with, by far, the largest number of English Language Learners in Chester County.

Where Oxford Area High School stands out is that their percentage of Special Education Students is roughly twice that of Octorara, and their number of English Language Learners is more than 3 times that of Octorara. Yet, the Oxford Area High School is achieving a similar SPP Score.

Chester County Averages (for High Schools)*

  • SPP Score – 86.7
  • Economically Disadvantaged – 18.14%
  • English Language Learners – 1.53%
  • Special Education – 14.58%

In the discussion of return on investment, we talk about the cost per-student vs performance scores. I believe somewhere in the discussion should be the cost per-student for each performance point. Does that make sense?

* Special Note: This was mistakenly labeled. The averages contain each of the High Schools within the CCIU, plus the two Lancaster County Districts noted.