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State releases school performance scores

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by Benjamin Herold for the Notebook/NewsWorks   Two of the largest charters in Pennsylvania, Chester Community Charter School (CCCS) and the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber), are among the 89 schools across the state that are to be investigated for statistical irregularities on 2009 standardized tests. In all, 10 Pennsylvania charters were found to

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The state’s Education Department today released the scores it uses to rate Pennsylvania’s public schools.

The number of schools meeting the state’s standard stayed flat this year, Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq announced Thursday. Nearly three-quarters of the state’s 2,947 district and charter schools, she said, received scores of 70 or higher.

Schools are rated on a scale of 0 to 100 (107 with extra credit), and Dumaresq has previously said that a score of 70 is the state’s benchmark for schools on the right track.

“These results show that, compared to 2012-13, the majority of our public schools are performing well, even though the state has recently revised its academic standards and is transitioning to more rigorous assessments,” said Dumaresq in a press release.

Last school year was the first when schools began to partially integrate the Pennsylvania Core Standards, the state’s version of the nationally aligned Common Core State Standards, into classrooms and on tests. Beginning this year, the state will begin using student PSSA scores to evaluate its teachers.

Controversy arose this fall when, in an election year, PSSA scores had not yet been released by their usual time. State officials have said they needed additional time to verify the accuracy of the scores, given their new role in teacher evaluations.

The School Performance Profile, the now two-year-old accountability system that replaced "adequate yearly progress," relies on a variety of achievement and growth measures — including attendance and graduation rates, success in "closing achivement gaps," but mostly standardized test scores — to provide an overall measure of a school’s performance.

Depending on the school’s score, it is then designated as either a "reward," "no designation," "focus," or "priority" school. Schools flagged as priority schools are among the lowest-scoring 5 percent and receive state-assisted intervention.

School Performance Profile scores for Philadelphia’s District and charter schools are shown below.

Note on the lowest-scoring schools: The Philadelphia Virtual Academy and the Workshop School were both new last year and so assessed on a limited group of metrics. Their highest possible point scores would have been 32.5 in the case of PVA and 35 in the case of the Workshop School, not 100 like the other schools.

David Limm

@limmdavid David is a former online editor of the Notebook.

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