Gateway High School, district fails to make AYP benchmarks
By Kyle Lawson
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012, 3:59 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Gateway High School again failed to meet benchmarks established by the state Department of Education and has become one of 55 schools in Pennsylvania to require a second consecutive year of corrective measures.
As a result, Gateway officials are required to submit a plan to the state that outlines how they will improve student performance.
For the assessment test that high school juniors and students in grades three through eight took in spring, the state required at least 81 percent of students of a school to test at “proficient” or “advanced” status in reading and at least 78 percent of students to be at least “proficient” in math.
The high school came up short in both subjects, with only 76.3 percent of the overall student body testing “proficient” or better in reading and 63.1 percent doing so in math.
The state evaluates the performance of not only the entire student body but of categories of students, as well.
Five such subgroups — black students, multiracial students, economically disadvantaged students, special-education students and English learning students — failed to meet standards at the high school.
This is the second consecutive year the high school has failed to meet state standards or make adequate yearly progress.
Cleveland Steward Elementary and Gateway Middle School also failed to meet state standards. Both met last year's state benchmarks.
CSE Principal Linda Echard said many students were adjusting to new teachers and classmates, after transferring from the former Pitcairn Elementary and other schools.
“The makeup of our elementary schools in 2011-12 was not the same as the previous years,” Echard said.
After-school tutoring was incorporated at each of the Gateway Elementary Schools this year and practice tests are administered throughout the year. Administrators study the data to focus on the specific academic needs of each student, Echard said.
Each year the benchmarks that students have to meet have gone up, and in 2014-15, the state Department of Education will expect 100 percent of students in every Pennsylvania School to score at least “proficient.”
That goal is “impossible in any situation,” said Gateway School Director Skip Drumheller.
The state also requires that all students achieve the same standards, including those with special needs. Echard said she agrees with a level playing field.
“We need to expose everyone to the curriculum, and it's a good thing to be able to see where all of our students are in relationship to the common core standards,” Echard said.
“It's not a bad thing for us to be able to get a good picture of each and every one of our students.”
Special-needs students at some of the county's highest-achieving districts, such as Upper St. Clair, Fox Chapel and Mt. Lebanon, failed to meet standards as a whole this year.
In addition to the individual schools, the Gateway School District as a whole failed to meet the state's annual yearly progress benchmarks.
It's the first time since 2005 that the district did not make annual yearly progress.
At least twice as many districts in Allegheny County failed to make AYP, compared to 2011 results.
According to a press release from the state department of education, Secretary Ron Tomalis said that based on recent investigations of suspected cheating in 2009, it's highly probable that tests were tampered with prior to that year.
The 2011-12 PSSA scores accurately reflect the work of students, not the efforts of those who are only interested in preserving the image of an educational institution and its personnel, reads the press release.
“The 2011-12 PSSA scores should be viewed as a reset point for student achievement in Pennsylvania,” Tomalis said.
“This is the first year the department can confidently report that PSSA scores are a true reflection of student achievement and academic progress.”
Gateway administrators took exception to Tomalis' comments.
“I disagree 200 percent,” said Nancy Hines, Gateway director of curriculum and instruction.
“We were monitored the last two consecutive years and there were zero findings.”
Gateway was suspected of tampering with tests in 2009, but after state officials showed up unannounced to monitor test procedures, the district was cleared, Hines said.
If a school or district does not meet its AYP for five years in a row, it is subject to governance changes such as reconstitution, chartering, and privatization.
In the meantime, improvement plans, school choice, and supplemental education services are still required.
Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What all don't understand this is just not effecting football. Once again the board would like it to go that way. This kids realize that they aren't making it to the NFL not one of them ever said Terry Smith is getting me to the NFL. This is also effecting the diabled kids,the band the kids,the kids in class who are bullied and join groups to be accepted. What those woman were doing was saying that we agree, but we need to give the kids tools to help them reach goals. Gateway has refused free services from organizations to help our kids learn the tools to study and acheive their goals. If they need help they need to pay.Would you like to know what some Gateway teachers charge for their services? How bout 60 dollars an hour, no less. I could not afford that if my child needed the help. Now we are refusing the same services from RAMP that are free? The AD gets the help for his kids,He loves his kids(and that is the girls basketball team all around to the football team). It is unconditional love and support. Alot of these kids don't get that from their teachers or at home. That is the other part of the picture here guys. How rude and narrow minded of you to say these boys have no skills. I was listening to the same meeting that you were and the ladies speaking were agreeing that things need to change. They were saying that tools needed to be in place first, and the board agreed with them. This is a problem across the district not just football players taking these tests that we failed,as a district in ALL we failed. Are you now telling me that you are okay with them getting rid of a teacher who helps your child and keeps your child on the right track? That you wouldn't go to bat for that teacher? We need more people in the school stepping up for our kids like Mr. Smith. Ask him if his kids get the help they need before they hit the field? The answer would be yes. They go to any teacher or many of the coaches are teachers and student on student help. See if any other coaches/band leaders or club leaders give that time. When a child is on a 2.0 bubble that didn't happen when they hit 9th grade. Who is letting these kids pass on to another grade if they can't? Then when they hit high school they have school ,home life for some of these kids is a nightmare,some are homeless, some are from broken homes,some don't know where their next meal is coming from. All kids have differant situations. Lets stop playing who's fault this is and fix it. It doesn't have a thing to do with the A.D. position. Once again a coverup by the board to take focus of main issues.
Submitted by: Mike on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Anthony, you are right on with your comments. The saddest part is that these kids with less than a 2.0 are essentially crippled for life. They have no skills other than the ability to play high school football. These parents that have been fighting and screaming about one administrator/coach's job should be screaming about the fact that their children or the child down the street is permitted to play ball when he cannot read or write.
Submitted by: Anthony on Tuesday, September 25, 2012
This is wonderful! So let's please keep the School Board and Administration focused on the battle with a small contingent of people about a Coach/AD who if he positively affects every kid in sports does so to a few hundred people. Why spend time and attention on something as silly as education which only affects the few thousands in the district. It's almost sad now that I think back to watching some folks speak at the most recent study session complaining, crying, and outraged that the School District force these athletes to maintain a 2.0 GPA...a 2.0?! Are you serious, show up to class, pay attention and do your minimum required workload and you breeze to a 2.0! Perhaps some of the people out there need to realize that something like less than 2% of high school athletes go on to play in college. Less than 1/5 of 1% make it to the pros. Perhaps spending more time in the books and less time in the playbooks is a good thing!