School officials say state bungled release of new report card results
By Megan Harris
Published: Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 9:27 a.m.
School leaders say state Education officials botched the release of what should have been the department's crowning achievement, the latest piece of a new accountability system designed to replace No Child Left Behind.
Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq delayed the debut of a school performance website when more than 20 percent of the state's 3,000 schools complained that data were incorrect or incomplete and could make schools look bad.
The site of the School Performance Profile, initially set to appear Monday, went active on Friday afternoon with partial results. A dialogue box tells visitors that erroneous information will be updated as soon as possible.
“What good does that do, though?” said Jim Buckheit, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators, who lobbied the state to postpone the site's release until all data could be added and verified.
“We're frustrated by the lack of communication, clarity and the timeframe we were given to approve the data they submitted on our behalf,” he said. “To knowingly release the new system with errors is a totally inappropriate way to represent our schools.”
Minutes after the site went live, Dumaresq said everything available online was correct, blaming the incomplete release on discrepancies in how educators submitted Keystone Exams statewide. Superintendents, including dozens in Western Pennsylvania, were allowed to ask the state to suppress data until they can be corrected.
“We felt holding the whole thing to wait for one (piece of data, the Keystone exams) is probably not in our best interest,” she said.
The system that supports the site is not flawed, she said, and eventually will give a reliable portrait of school performance.
“We'll have to see how that plays out,” said David Broderic, spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
Broderic argued that the profiles rely too heavily on standardized testing, a combined 90 percent including base scores, growth over time and minority achievement.
At Franklin Regional, Assistant Superintendent Mary Catherine Reljac said numbers given to the district on Monday for approval are higher than those she saw online Friday.
“If the School Performance Profile is designed to make a quantitative statement about a school, it is imperative that the data are accurate,” said Joseph H. Clapper, Quaker Valley superintendent.
In development for more than three years, School Performance Profile features a number grade for every school — from 0 to 100, or up to 107 with extra credit. Districts do not receive scores as a whole.
Education Department spokesman Tim Eller reported on Monday that 626 schools asked to be excluded and 1,444 schools requested minor corrections. For schools with missing data or incomplete scores, he said, the state will issue new scores in January.
Officials based scores on the results of statewide Keystone and end-of-course exams, attendance, graduation rates and student growth from year to year as part of the School Performance Profile, which replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress goals outlined in No Child Left Behind.
Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, praised the state for its responsiveness but said many Allegheny County superintendents were still waiting for corrections they requested weeks ago. “I understand this is very complex and it takes time to pull all the data from these multiple sources and get it online, but that's why we should've delayed,” Hippert said. “Why push to get it out there? The public will see these scores and draw conclusions, despite the disclaimers.”
Leaders at Allegheny Valley, Clairton, Pine Richland, Charleroi Area, Armstrong, Penn-Trafford, Riverview and Highlands also criticized the rollout, though most concede the School Performance Profile will ultimately be better than the system it replaced.
“It is nice for parents,” said Michael Bjalobok, superintendent at Highlands, “but it isn't going to guide our instruction.”
Staff writers Daveen Rae Kurutz, Tawnya Panizzi, Tom Yerace, Pat Cloonan, Brad Pederson, Rachel Farkus, Christopher Buckley, Tory Parrish, Kate Wilcox and Megan Guza contributed to this report. Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or email@example.com.
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.
- Alvarez struggles as Pirates fall short against Brewers
- Orpik: Penguins must keep their cool
- Pirates trade for Mets first baseman Davis
- Penguins’ Bylsma wants Cup version of Letang
- Dems in Pa. governor’s race vow to close loophole, say firms skirt corporate tax
- Latrobe woman texts searchers in Linn Run State Park to tell them she’s OK
- Rossi: Pens sticking to power-play plan
- Gorman: Can Mike Tyson save boxing?
- Former Mystic Inn burns in Republic, Fayette County
- City’s efforts bolstered to track illegal dumping
- California University of Pennsylvania offers training for weather spotters