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Fayette schools may have to allow student transfers

Joe Napsha

Seven Fayette County schools must offer students the option of transferring to another school because the schools failed to make adequate yearly progress for at least one of the state’s education standards for three years.

The seven schools were cited Tuesday in the Department of Education’s final list for evaluating school improvement and student achievement through standardized tests in reading and math, and measuring of attendance and graduation rates. The system of making schools accountable was developed so the state would be in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The list was released after the education department made its final decision on appeals from school districts throughout the state that were cited in an initial report last month for failing to make adequate yearly progress in the test scores, graduation rates, attendance and participation in the test.

The state used data from the 2001-2002 school year as the basis for setting annual yearly progress targets. The reading and math scores were the results of tests conducted last school year in grades 5, 8 and 11.

Masontown Central Elementary School was placed on school improvement level 2 list. Specifically, it failed to show adequate yearly progress in its reading scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests for three consecutive years. The students did show progress in their math scores.

The following six schools were placed on the school improvement level 1 list because they did not meet minimum yearly progress for two consecutive years: Albert Gallatin’s North and South middle schools; Central Elementary School in the Brownsville Area School District; and Connellsville Area junior highs east and west, and the senior high school.

The Turkeyfoot Valley Elementary School in Somerset County and the Donora Elementary Center in Washington County are on the same list.

Those school districts must offer parents the option of sending their child to another public school, including charter schools, within the school district. If no other school in the district is available, the school district has to allow students to transfer to another district, according to the education department’s Web site. It also must offer tutoring at no cost to the student.

The schools must develop improvement plans and will receive technical assistance to reach those goals, the education department stated.

In Westmoreland County, 19 schools in 10 public school districts plus the Ridgeview Academy Christian School and a Westmoreland Intermediate school were placed on the warning list, which means they fell short of target improvements for one year. These schools are not penalized, but are expected to develop improvement strategies.

The Westmoreland schools on the warning list are in 10 districts: Belle Vernon Area, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Jeannette, Kiski Area, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant Area, New Kensington-Arnold, Norwin and Yough.

Terry Foriska, Hempfield Area’s assistant superintendent for secondary schools, said the state incorrectly listed West Hempfield Middle School as being on the warning list. Foriska said the education department notified Hempfield that it had won its appeal of failing to meet adequate yearly progress on attendance.

Foriska pointed out that Crossroads is an alternative education school and may have only a few students at some times of the year.

Schools in all six of Fayette County’s school districts are on the warning list. Seven schools in the Laurel Highlands district and four each in the Brownsville Area and Uniontown Area school districts made the list. Albert Gallatin and Connellsville both had three schools, while only the Perry Elementary School in the Frazier School District was on the list.

Twenty schools in Washington County were on the warning list; 13 schools in Greene County; 10 schools in Somerset County; and nine schools in Indiana County.

More information on the Pennsylvania Accountability System report may be available on the state Department of Education Web site: www.pde.state.pa.us/pas


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