Positives seen despite Valley Junior-Senior High School performance scores | TribLIVE.com
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Despite having the lowest state profile scores among area schools, Valley Junior-Senior High School interim Principal Jon Banko said positives can be found.

Banko, who is also assistant to the superintendent, discussed the recent state School Performance Profile scores before the New Kensington-Arnold School Board Thursday.On average, about 80 percent of local schools received a 70 or higher on a 100-point scale, based on school performance data for 2013-14 that the state released.

The state Department of Education set 70 as its benchmark for schools that are doing well.

Valley High School came in with a score of 56.

“There’s a lot of people upset about where the school sits, but if you look a little closer, there are some really positive things,” he said.

In particular, he pointed out the high school’s 90 percent graduation rate and its 92 percent attendance rate.

He said the latter, “is almost unheard of at the high school.”

In addition, he pointed out that the school receives extra points because it offers Advance Placement courses. He said it received bonus points thanks to students taking the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), which is basically a practice test for the College Boards.Banko said in the past the district had all its students take the test, but that didn’t work out well and the practice was halted.

Instead, he said, during the past several years the district has done more things to encourage students to take the exam.

While the scores have not increased, Banko also said that there hasn’t been a big drop off, either.

“I looked back over the past six or seven years, and our proficiency rates are pretty stable,” Banko said.

He said the Department of Education’s thrust now is developing growth among students.

He echoed what Superintendent John Pallone said previously about the new school district reconfiguration meshing with that. The district no longer has a middle school, as all children in grades 7 to 12 will be in the same building, eliminating children having to move from one building to another.

“By reconfiguring the schools we have taken out the most difficult transition, and that is from the eighth grade to ninth grade,” Banko said.

Board member Regina Namey, a former district teacher, acknowledged that while scores may not be the best, they don’t reflect the “ultimate result” of the many Valley students who go on to college or graduate and land good jobs.

“We do good work at Valley with what we have,” Banko said. “I think people think we can be great, and I think it’s time that we take that next step and become great.”

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or [email protected].

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