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Brentwood superintendent: SPP 'better measure than AYP'

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The state's new school-performance profiles came with a mixed bag of positives and negatives, according to leaders of local school districts.

“We're very pleased with all of the scores but know that we have to do better,” West Jefferson Hills School District Superintendent Michael Panza said.

The school-performance profiles — which replaces the measure of adequate yearly progress, or AYP, from the federal No Child Left Behind program — bases scores on exam results, attendance, graduation rates and students' academic improvement between years.

The profiles assign a numerical score for every school — from zero to 100, or up to 107 with extra credit — in the data that was released to the public last week. 4. Districts, as a whole, do not receive a score.

Problems with the reporting of the Keystone Exam data allowed districts to suppress building data until results can be fixed. Results for schools with suppressed data will be released later this school year.

West Jefferson Hills officials suppressed the data for Thomas Jefferson High School for that reason.

“It was very frustrating as a school administrator that the results received from the department of education changed so many times,” Panza said. “Rather than putting out information that might not be 100 percent correct — that's not what we're about here — we decided to hold off releasing that information.

“The administration and the staff work so hard to make sure the students are getting a quality education every day and we don't want to jeopardize our scores because the information might not be accurate,” Panza added.

Likewise, Brentwood Borough School District officials suppressed the score for Brentwood High School due to concerns about the results of their biology Keystone exams, said coordinator of curriculum, instruction and professional development Lindsay Klousnitzer.

“It's a better measure than AYP.... You see exactly where you are with this,” Brentwood Superintendent Ronald Dufalla said. “I would have preferred all of the information be held until all of the information was accurate.”

Baldwin-Whitehall School District officials suppressed data for both Baldwin High School and J.E. Harrison Middle School.

“It's not that there's wrong data, it's just a matter of how they're coded,” Superintendent Randal Lutz responded to board member question's last week.

“We're still very, very excited,” assistant Superintendent Denise Sedlacek told board members at their Oct. 2 meeting as she reviewed the results with them.

Whitehall Elementary had the district's highest School Performance Profile score, with 89.5. The school also received a designation as a Title I reward, or high progress, score.

Students in fourth through eighth grade in Baldwin-Whitehall had the highest level of improvement in reading out of all schools in Allegheny County according to results from the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System, Sedlacek said. The same grades scored in the top 25 percent in the county in math for improvement in one year.

School board members expressed their excitement over these distinctions.

“The good work paid off,” board member Nancy Crowder said.

In the Brentwood Borough School District, Moore Elementary School had the highest School Performance Profile results, with 80.3.

“I was satisfied, but not happy” Dufalla said.

“I think that this is a good starting point,” Klousnitzer said.

Building principals already have met with teachers to review scores and find ways to collaborate and improve, she said. “I feel like the teachers are getting a whole new understanding of growth and what it means,” said Klousnitzer, noting that she's hoping the creation of her position for this school year will only help to bolster what already is being done in the schools.

“In four years from now — having this data — I truly feel like there are great thing coming,” Klousnitzer said. “I feel like we're doing well in the current situation that we're at, but we'll get better.”

In West Jefferson Hills, Gill Hall Elementary School had the highest school-performance-profile results with 94.3. McClellan Elementary had the lowest released results with 77.3.

Creating consistency between the schools is important, Panza said.

“We need to look at, ‘What are they doing at Gill Hall that they're not doing at McClellan?'” he said.

The superintendent said that professional-development days will focus on improvements to test scores and the hiring of Bonnie Dyer as director of curriculum, instruction and assessment should help make a “positive difference.”

But this is just one test.

“Don't put all of your eggs in one basket,” Panza said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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