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Grades for Pennsylvania public schools slightly lower in annual review | TribLIVE.com
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Grades for Pennsylvania public schools slightly lower in annual review

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 7, 2014 12:01 a.m.

Grades for Pennsylvania public schools dropped marginally in 2013-14, data from the state Department of Education show.

School performance results from 2012-13 show nearly 73 percent of schools received a 70 or higher on a 100-point scale, about half a percentage point higher than in 2013-14. Statewide, no county’s grade rose or fell more than five points from its average in 2012-13. Butler County schools led the pack regionally, with institutions in Indiana, Washington and Allegheny counties each scoring above the state 76-point average.

Schools in Pine-Richland, Mt. Lebanon, Moon Area and West Jefferson Hills recorded the highest overall scores — all nearing 100 — while schools in Pittsburgh, McKeesport Area and Propel showed the greatest improvement, about 20 points each.

At 77.27, Allegheny County’s average score is about half a point higher than last year.

Pittsburgh Superintendent Linda Lane celebrated success at schools such as South Brook, Sterrett, King, Morrow and Schiller, but acknowledged room for growth at the 27 schools where scores dropped between one and 17 points from last year.

“We know that in order to assess a school’s effectiveness, we must look at multiple data points,” she said, praising the profiles.

Available at paschoolperformance.org, School Performance Profiles are weighted to reflect statewide student exams; overall academic growth; graduation, attendance and promotion rates; and performance factors for English-language learners and children from low-income homes.

They replace Adequate Yearly Progress goals mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Organizations such as the Pennsylvania School Boards Association criticized charter and cyber charter schools. Spokesman Steve Robinson said Pennsylvania public schools scored an average of 76.9, brick-and-mortar charter schools scored 65.1 and cyber charters performed at 48.9.

In Pittsburgh, charter advocacy group PennCAN reported a weighted average score of 70 for local charters, excluding Academy Charter School, which serves formerly incarcerated youth.

Researchers accounted for race and socioeconomic status, said PennCAN liaison Rachel Amankulor.

“You have to take that into account to get the full picture of how Pittsburgh schools are doing,” she said.

The profiles were delayed by six weeks while state officials verified information with local schools. “I was a little frustrated, thinking, why wasn’t this coming out sooner?” said Keystone Oaks Superintendent Bill Stropkaj. “But this is the first year these numbers will be reflected in the evaluation of teachers. … I think the state wanted to make sure the numbers were perfect.”

Last year, Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq twice delayed school scores because of a testing error that led to mistakes for 20 percent of the state’s 3,000 schools. Final results were posted two months after the website’s October launch.

Dumaresq said, “With nearly 120,000 teachers across the commonwealth being affected by the results of this year’s profile, it is imperative to ensure the information in the profile is complete and accurate.”

Staff writer Matthew Santoni contributed to this report. Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-388-5815.

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