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Armstrong schools exceed state performance benchmark | TribLIVE.com
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Armstrong schools exceed state performance benchmark

by BRAD PEDERSEN
| Saturday, November 8, 2014 1:21 a.m.
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As districts statewide continue to adjust to the state’s new way of calculating school performance, scores in the majority of Armstrong School District increased from last year.

The district earned an average score of 75.8 on a 100-point scale based on school performance data for 2013-14 that the state released last week, which is 2 percent higher than last year’s scores.

The state Department of Education set 70 as its benchmark for schools that are doing well. School performance profiles replaced adequate yearly progress goals mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Shauna Braun-Zukowski, the district’s director of secondary curriculum, said the majority of schools increased their scores from the previous year, which she attributed to offering students more tutoring.

“I’m very proud of our progress, and it shows that our curriculum is where we need to be,” she said. “But our goal is always to improve, and we’re going to focus on raising the scores even further.”

Scores incorporate the results of statewide assessments, student academic growth from year to year, graduation rates, attendance and performance rates, and the academic progress of historically under-performing students such as English language learners and those from low-income households.

Freeport Area Junior High School scored a 96.7, making it the highest-ranked school in Armstrong County, while Leechburg Area High School was the lowest, with a rank of 67.9.

In Armstrong School District, Shannock Valley Elementary had the highest score at 84.8, while Ford City Junior-Senior High School was the lowest-performing school at 69.6. The scores are based on a scale of 100.

Lenape Elementary School saw the most drastic drop in the district, falling 11.6 points to 69.7.

Cheryl Soloski, the district’s director of elementary curriculum, said teachers monitored the progress of each student and offered tutoring, which helped boost scores in most of the district’s elementary schools. They are looking into offering additional tutoring and instruction time to help students at Lenape Elementary bring up their scores next year.

“Each year, we see groups of students take tests with diverse needs,” Soloski said. “We’re going to make sure we work diligently to come up with a plan to meet their specific needs.”

West Hills Primary School’s annual score dropped one-tenth of a point to 80.9, and Kittanning Junior High School dropped half a point to 71.

Scores in Armstrong School District’s seven other schools increased by at least 1.2 points. West Hills Intermediate School showed the most improvement, boosting its score from 65.2 to 73.8.

Braun-Zukowski said while she is proud of the district’s scores, officials will keep looking for ways to continue improving. She said the district will keep offering professional development opportunities to its teachers and continue offering tutoring to all of its students.

“We need to keep doing what we are doing but also realize there is always room for improvement,” Braun-Zukowski said. “Our ultimate goal is to see our scores improve again next year.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com. Staff writer Jodi Weigand contributed to this report.

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