Moon OKs test score proposal
By Sandra Fischione Donovan
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
The Moon Area School District will spend up to $43,000 on an intervention plan to bring student test scores at Richard J. Hyde Elementary School up to par with those at other district elementary schools.
The school board approved the plan in a unanimous vote after Superintendent Curtis Baker and Caroline Johns, acting assistant superintendent, made a presentation at a special meeting Monday.
Results of benchmark tests from December show Hyde's third-graders scored an average 65 percent in math and 62 percent in reading. The school's fourth-graders scored 82 percent on average in both subjects. The third-grade math numbers were below the 78 to 81 percent range of average scores for the four other Moon Area elementary schools. In reading, the other schools' third-graders scored 74 to 91 percent on average.
Baker said Hyde's fourth-grade benchmark scores could mean those students will score lower on this year's Pennsylvania System of School Assessment test than they did as third-graders. The scores from last year were 85 percent in math and 88 percent in reading.
“If you look across the board, (Hyde) is almost universally below the other schools, and there's no need for that,” Baker said.
Baker said various issues may contribute to the lower Hyde scores: Of the four third- and fourth-grade teachers at Hyde, three are long-term substitutes, the principal has been on leave and the interim principal is serving her first building assignment. Also, discipline and attendance issues are detracting from education, and the school has the largest economically disadvantaged population of all the elementary schools.
Baker and Johns offered these steps, to begin this week in third and fourth grades and Jan. 16 in kindergarten through second grade:
• Hire consultant Deborah Fink-Sailsbery for up to $15,000 to mentor teachers. The retired principal of Hartwood Elementary School in the Fox Chapel School District would help to interpret Hyde data, visit classrooms and provide feedback to teachers, Johns said.
• Focus on literacy by retaining a librarian full-time at Hyde, for up to $11,000. The librarian currently also works at the Allard school.
• Retain a guidance counselor full-time at Hyde, for up to $10,000.
• Bring in a school social worker one extra day a week from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, at a cost of up to $7,000.
Johns is to work with the Hyde teaching staff, and administrators plan to work with after-school programs, such as those provided by the YMCA, to align their academic help with the district's curriculum.
The intervention plan would expand the school's breakfast program, and staff would encourage students to use the after-school program at Hyde.
Baker said other test scores also have dropped. “We are not universally pleased” with the other elementary schools' scores, he said.
For instance, Bon Meade fourth-graders scored 80 percent on average on the benchmark test, below their Hyde counterparts' average of 82 percent.
“We may learn some things … that can benefit the other schools,” school board member Gia Tatone said.
Board member Jerry Testa questioned whether the data were valid after only three months of instruction, and said he wants to make sure the extra help planned “is not just a Band-Aid to artificially inflate scores.” Baker said later the district's approach is to educate children, not teach to tests.
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bethel Park brewpub gets council’s approval
- Teens from Western Pa. high schools work to address global water shortage
- Churches throughout Allegheny County host sunrise Easter services
- Construction of Allegheny County sports complex fields delayed
- Mt. Lebanon School District might add international students to fortify budget