Greater Latrobe gives mixed marks to new state profile of students' progress
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Greater Latrobe officials believe it is too early to tell if a new state system to evaluate school progress will be an improvement.
Superintendent Judith Swigart explained the new system, Student Performance Profile, to the school board at a meeting on Oct. 8.
“It really is, moving forward, something we can use as a tool to help guide our professional development, even though by the time it gets to this point, we're pretty familiar with what's going to be there,” Swigart said. “It's a tool; it's nothing more than that.”
The profiles use statewide testing scores and a combination of other factors to give each individual score in a district a weighted rating on a scale up to 100, with extra credit up to 107.
The system replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress designations based on Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores.
Pennsylvania was granted a waiver of No Child Left Behind Act requirements over the summer by the federal government.
When the data were released statewide Oct. 4, some of the schools' figures were not correct and were omitted from the public website, paschoolperformance.org.
Many high schools, including Greater Latrobe Senior High School, do not have an assessment listed because of errors in marking the Keystone Exams.
Some of the student scores were not counted toward the totals, Swigart said.
“All of our students took the Keystones, even if they weren't enrolled in the class last year. I might have been a junior and took an Algebra 1 Keystone Exam, but I took algebra when I was a sophomore,” said Swigart.
The state's goal is to correct the suppressed data for release by January, she said.
“I will tell you that our (testing) data at the high school was very good, but it wasn't correct,” she said.
Other Greater Latrobe schools scored well: Baggaley Elementary School was given a 95, as was Mt. View Elementary School. Latrobe Elementary School earned a 93, and Greater Latrobe Junior High School got an 88.6.
“Overall, we believe that our elementary schools — and it's a credit to the administration and the teachers in those buildings and the community and parents — really have worked very hard,” Swigart said.
Scores are determined with different factors, including test scores, how well the district improves year-to-year and others like promotion and attendance rates.
Administrators and faculty are examining the junior high mathematics academic growth score, which is reported at 66.67, Swigart said.
“It's a concern. We need to look at that. We need to figure out why, and we need to improve,” she said.
The district will be able to judge the new measurements better after data have been compiled for a few years, board President Susan Mains said.
In other business, the Act 1 property tax increase index has increased for the district, which could allow the board to raise taxes higher than in the past few years, if necessary.
Business Manager Dan Watson said the index was adjusted because of the improving economy and has increased from a base of 1.7 percent up to an adjusted index of 2.2 percent. Using the current millage rate of 77, officials could increase taxes by up to 2.08 mills, if needed, under the state formula, he said.
That would increase revenue by about $700,000, Watson said.
“We have a little bit more flexibility this year because of the index,” he said.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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