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Southmoreland receives warning status

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 2:51 a.m.

Southmoreland School District officials learned their fate earlier this month when Pennsylvania State School Assessment scores were released.

John Molnar, superintendent for Southmoreland School District, said the high school is in School Improvement 1 status and the district as a whole is in warning status, mostly due to the graduation target.

“Where the problem comes in is that if we have a severely autistic student that goes to Clairview until they're 21, which is totally their right to do, that counts against that graduation rate,” Molnar said.

If the high school would make Adequate Yearly Progress next year, it could be classified as “making progress.” If it has that status for two years in a row, then it will be out of any warning or school improvement classifications.

Last year, the high school was in warning status, but the year before that it made AYP. Molnar said the district will have to write a school improvement plan for the high school.

Both the elementary school, as well as the middle school, did make AYP this year.

The administrators at the high school are working hard toward getting the math scores up and Molnar said one of the ways is to try and offer a very limited number of basic math and language arts classes

“What we're doing now is that 90 percent of the kids coming out of the middle school are advanced or proficient in math so we're trying to eliminate the basic math courses as an option,” he said. “We want to steer more students to the higher, more rigorous math and language arts classes.”

Besides having issues with math at the high school, the district and all other districts, will now have to deal with a new proficiency test that will be administered.

The only high school grade that participates in PSSA testing each year in districts across the state are the 11th grade students.

Instead of being administered the PSSA tests this year, juniors will now have to take the Keystone exam for determining AYP.

The challenge with the new test is that it is meant to be an end-of-the-year course test, but will test on basic maths, such as Algebra I.

However, by the time some students are juniors in high school, they have already taken the course - maybe even as early as eighth or ninth grade.

Because of this, teachers will have to try and incorporate some review of certain subjects into their curriculum and teachings this year to help the students be prepared for the test.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.