UDA puts scores out there
Published: October 17, 2013
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LOYALTON - Upper Dauphin Area School District will take a head on approach when it comes to addressing its schools' academic performance, according to Superintendent Evan Williams.
Williams explained the district's scores to the school board Oct. 8 based on the recently-released Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) PA School Performance Profile (PSPP).
Williams said this is the measurement that replaces Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). It assesses teachers and mimics what Upper Dauphin's been doing for a long time, he said. It provides the public with information on how public schools across the state are performing academically and will be used for federal accountability for Title I schools.
According to Williams, some schools have no PSPP scores listed. "Our little district has the courage to put our scores out there," he said. "Plenty of districts did better than us. (There were) lots that did worse. Our job is to do better," he said.
Williams gave a brief review of the numbers the public may see when visiting the PDE website.
The public can visit the website www.pde.state.pa.us and scroll down to the lower right-hand corner. There, they will see a mortar board (graduation cap icon) labeled, "PA School Performance Profile". Visitors can follow the prompts, and enter the name of the school district to find more detailed information.
There are many items taken into consideration for producing a school's score. UDA is doing very well at the elementary level, according to Williams. The school received a score of 91.2. He said elementary pupils have good attendance rates and parents of those pupils attend their parent-teacher conferences. By the time students reach the high school, often the only parents who show up for conferences are those whose children are achieving "A's", he said. Elementary students want to do well on tests and try to do as well as they can. "They don't act like that in the high school," Williams admits.
At the middle school, the score was 75.6. The performances in reading and writing were low, while students performed better in math and science. Of the written test, Williams said students are often uninterested in the topic they are given to write about. The fifth-grade test is one of the more difficult, he said.
At the high school level, the score was 65.2. The Keystone Exams are more rigorous than the PSSAs, Williams said. While high school students did well in Literature, they had low SAT scores and a smaller pool of students who took the SAT. They also had poor participation rates in the PSAT (SAT preliminary/practice test). At the high school, there were lower scores in science/biology and in mathematics/Algebra I. UDA also made some changes, taking some advanced placement courses and turning them into college credit courses instead. Williams said UDA actually lost PSPP points for doing that.
Directors Roni Mace and Angela Mattern both expressed concerns about teachers notifying parents when a problem is first spotted in a child's work, and in electronically updating grades in a timely matter. Williams said the district would be working on loading as many email addresses of parents into the system as possible to make sure those grades are getting entered in real-time.
Trojan News Network
The board heard from instructors Shelli Casner and Todd Rupp about the high school's Video Production Class. The directors saw a sample video of the "Trojan News Network" that students produced. About a dozen students are involved with aspects of presenting the school announcements, inputting information, and running a teleprompter.
"We're getting positive feedback from the teachers and the students," said Casner. "The possibilities are endless, if we get the infrastructure," Rupp said.
Williams said the district's network and computer infrastructure must be addressed. "I think it's a good activity for the kids. We have to keep you empowered so it keeps going," Williams said.
The announcements are recorded during seventh period, and then played during eighth period.
In other matters, Director Jack Laudenslager asked Williams if there's a review of the professional development courses teachers are taking. "Are they learning something beneficial to the subject they are teaching," Laudenslager asked. Williams said he tries to have knowledge of what's being approved, and often times contacts the registrar where the courses are being taught for further explanation. Some courses, he said, are purely internet courses, but are qualified. Williams said he'd like to see more rigorous professional development courses. "I don't just sign off," he said.
Director Mills Eure brought up concerns about possibly having department heads again and concerns about class sizes. He said he's learned some classes have as many as 30 students in them, and he worried about pupils receiving individualized attention or having proper access to computers. Williams said some teachers may actually have two classes in the room at the same time, a German 3 and German 4 class, for instance, and that may be the reason for the larger numbers. Williams would look into the matter.
In other business, the board:
- approved the following program volunteers for 2013-14: Ricky Schadel, Crystal Gessner, Angela Klinger, Lori Campbell, Nancy Spacek, Michelle Baker, Bernadette Buffington, Darlene Shaffer, Amie Savidge, Wendy Simmers, Arkie Simmers, Nicole Henninger, Jody Hertzler, Kathy Gibson, Brenda Buffington, Jessica Masser and Angela Kohler.
- approved home-bound instruction for a student for four weeks, beginning Sept. 30, 2013.
- approved participation in CSIU Joint Purchasing Council for general art, computer, paper, athletic and copier supplies for the 2014-15 school year.
- approved the following activity and club advisors for the 2013-14 school year: Freshman Class of 2017, Elijah Shutt, $315; Sophomore Class of 2016, Craig Henninger, $339; Junior Class of 2015, Dana Lomma, $800; Senior Class of 2014, Shelli Casner, $843; Yearbook, Cynthia Minnich, $1,656; Honor Society, Todd Smeltz, $1,051; Student Council, Marcia Schell and Amy Heinbach, $500 each; Trojanaires, Elaine Cramer, $1,500; Musical/Drama Club, Elaine Cramer, $1,500; FBLA, Shelli Casner, unpaid; MS Student Government, Justin Adams and Lora Kerwin, $350 each; and MS Peer Helpers, Emily Maldonado, unpaid.
- approved the following before and after school tutors for the 2013-14 school year at $20 per hour: Tricia Britton, Julie Bugda, Danielle Burton, Adam Downing, Blake Dutweiler, Emily Maldonado, Christina Reiner, Tracy Hoffman, Pam Zilinski, Emily Renn and Fran Eure. Director Mills Eure abstained.
- approved Karly Herb as a bus driver for Rohrer Transportation; and the following instructional substitutes for 2013-14: Barb Eure, Tracy Hoffman, Fran Eure and Denise Usuka. Director Mills Eure abstained.
- approved Renee Buffington for unpaid leave from Dec. 4, 2013 to Jan. 19, 2014.
- approved Cory Shade as a short term substitute for Lori Heim for a period of at least six weeks.
- approved purchasing three dehumidifiers for the elementary school.
- tabled approval of a service agreement for water treatment testing between Daniel Schell and the district. Director Gerald Wiest had asked to table the item, until more information could be received.
- approved disposal of items, as listed from Buildings and Grounds. Wiest asked for consistency in timing when the items were posted on the website and that receipts from the items sold be brought back to the board.
- approved the field trip request from Coach Ryan Lentz to take the UDA high school baseball team to Newport News, Va., from Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 6 a.m. through Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 10 p.m. The trip is an annual event.