HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Education today released the new School Performance Profile that will show the academic performance of the state's public schools.
Today's launch includes a profile for nearly 2,400 of Pennsylvania's 3,000 public schools that reported accurate and timely data to the department, said Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn C. Dumaresq.
For the first time, parents, taxpayers and educators will have access to a comprehensive, straight-forward and user-friendly resource that will provide detailed information on the quality of public schools, including traditional public schools, brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, as well as career and technology centers.
"This new system brings together multiple academic indicators that are proven to provide a full overview of academic growth and achievement in our public schools," Dumaresq said. "I am very pleased to see that many of our public schools are doing well by students and providing them with educational programs that will lead them to be successful in higher education, the workforce and the military."
The reason for this partial release is to accommodate the requests of 626 schools that reported errors in their Keystone Exams' student growth measurements. The department determined that as a result of a lack of accurate data reported from these schools, their full performance profile will be suppressed until mid-December to allow for data corrections.
The affected schools will have an opportunity to make corrections to their Keystone Exams growth data prior to the School Performance Profile being available for all of Pennsylvania's public schools in December.
In addition, the compare feature in the School Performance Profile will not be available until the December update.
Purpose of the School Performance Profile
The School Performance Profile serves several purposes: to provide the public with comprehensive information about the academic performance of public schools; to satisfy requirements of Pennsylvania's approved federal No Child Left Behind waiver; and to be used as a required component of Pennsylvania's new educator evaluation system, which was signed into law in 2012.
Dumaresq noted that the profile does not only rely on static achievement results of the third- to eighth-grade Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) and end-of-course Keystone Exams, but considers other measures of student academic achievement.
Additional indicators include how much a student grows academically from one school year to the next, as shown by the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System; graduation rate; attendance rate; promotion rate; and how a school focuses on increasing the achievement of all students, including historically underperforming students, such as English language learners and economically disadvantaged students.
"We cannot lose sight of the fact that the mission of our public schools is to help all students become successful adults," Dumaresq said. "The School Performance Profile will not only highlight areas of excellence but will focus on areas where attention is needed to increase student achievement."
Approved No Child Left Behind Waiver
In August, the U.S. Department of Education approved the state's No Child Left Behind waiver request to improve Pennsylvania's public education system in three areas: making sure all of our students are college and career ready; developing recognition and accountability standards for all public schools; and improving and supporting effective classroom teachers and building principals.
"It is imperative for the future of Pennsylvania that students graduate high school with college- and career-ready credentials regardless of their career path," Dumaresq said. "The state has developed high-quality assessments to make sure students achieve those academic standards.''
Recognizing academic achievement and holding public schools accountable are essential to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being invested in education programs that benefit students.
Through the use of the School Performance Profile, Pennsylvania citizens will be able to determine the quality of the educational programs in their schools and how students are performing.
New Educator Evaluation System
The new educator evaluation system, signed into law last year by Governor Tom Corbett, will assess educators on multiple measures of student achievement, including the School Performance Profile; provide schools with access to comprehensive resources to improve classroom instruction; and provide information for schools to target resources for professional development of educators.
The new evaluation system is in place this year for classroom teachers and will be in place in the 2014-15 school year for principals and specialists.
Adequate Yearly Progress Eliminated
Pennsylvania's federal No Child Left Behind waiver eliminated the adequate yearly progress designation – a single measure of success – for each school building and school district. The School Performance Profile, which uses multiple measures of student achievement, takes its place and will be used to measure academic progress of all public schools.
Title I schools, those with a high percentage of low-income students, will receive a federal designation of "Priority," "Focus" or "Reward" based on four annual measurable objectives:
- Student participation on the math and reading PSSAs and the algebra I, biology and literature Keystone Exams;
- Student graduation or attendance rate;
- Closing the achievement gap of all students – reducing by 50 percent the number of students who score below grade level on the PSSA, Keystone Exams and the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) over a six-year period; and
- Closing the achievement gap of historically underperforming students – reducing by 50 percent the number of students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged and English language learners who score below grade level on the PSSA, Keystone Exams and the PASA over a six-year period.
"Reward" schools are the highest performing Title I schools based on the PSSAs and Keystone Exams and met each of the Annual Measurable Objectives. These schools will receive the Keystone Award and be eligible to compete for collaboration and/or innovation grants.
Schools designated as "Priority" or "Focus" will have access to intervention and support services through the state Department of Education to assist them in improving student achievement.
Non-Title I schools will receive a School Performance Profiles score rather than a federal designation, but will also have access to all the interventions and supports available.
Governor Corbett's Commitment to Student Achievement
Under Corbett's leadership during the last three years, the department has developed and implemented resources and support systems for voluntary use by all public schools to help all students succeed, Dumaresq said.
The Standards Aligned System (SAS) – www.pdesas.org – is a comprehensive, researched-based resource developed to improve student achievement. This web-based system identifies six components that impact student academic success: standards, assessments, curriculum framework, instruction, materials and resources, as well as safe and supportive schools.
SAS offers a broad range of resources, such as voluntary model curriculum; curriculum mapping and alignment with academic standards; learning progressions, which provide guidance on when subject-specific concepts should be introduced to students based on grade level; professional development resources; best practices; and the ability for educators statewide to share materials and strategies to raise student achievement.
To date, nearly 160,000 users have registered to access the site with a total of more than 33 million visits.
Also available on SAS is a Classroom Diagnostic Tool, which is a voluntary online assessment, designed to provide educators with information about student achievement in reading, math and science in grades 3 to 12. Results of the assessment are designed to provide educators with information in order to guide classroom instruction, remediation and enrichment.
As part of the state's approved federal No Child Left Behind waiver, the department will deploy Academic Recovery Liaisons to federally designated "Priority" schools in an effort to improve education in Pennsylvania's lowest-performing schools.
These individuals will play an important role in improving student performance by working with school leaders and teachers to assist them in identifying and using resources available through Pennsylvania's 29 intermediate units, the department's Training and Technical Assistance Network, institutions of higher education, and other education associations and groups.
School improvement strategies will focus on the effective use of data, implementing college- and career-ready standards through alignment of curriculum and assessments, employing educator effectiveness protocols, creating a positive school climate and increasing family engagement.
In partnership with First Lady Susan Corbett, the department has developed an Opening Doors Early Warning System to be used by schools to assist in identifying students who may be at risk for dropping out of school.
This voluntary computer-based system will analyze three key indicators that may indicate that a student is at risk for dropping out of school: attendance, behavior and academic record.
The critical piece to the system is a catalog of school- and community-based intervention resources that schools can steer students toward to stay on track to graduate.
In the current school year, four school districts are piloting the Early Warning System. It is planned for the system to be available to all public schools across the state in the 2014-15 school year.
"Governor Corbett is committed to ensuring that academically struggling schools have access to high-quality resources to drive quality instruction, thus improving student achievement," Dumaresq said. "The School Performance profile highlights areas of need and matches them with interventions and resources."
The School Performance Profile can be accessed by visiting the department's website at www.education.state.pa.us and clicking on the "PA School Performance Profile" icon.
Media contact: Tim Eller, 717-783-9802
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education