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Armstrong schools get 'C' score

| Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

Armstrong School District earned the equivalent of a “C” when its 10 schools received an average score of 75 out of 100 in the Pennsylvania Performance Profile, which was released Friday afternoon.

The numbers, however, are being challenged by administrators around the state. Because the Leader Times is not confident in the accuracy of the state scores, we decline to give them credibility by publishing them in full. The scores can be found at

The district's lowest-scoring school, West Hills Intermediate, received a 65.2, while its highest-ranked school, Shannock Valley Elementary, received a score of 81.9.

Armstrong School District's Superintendent Stanley Chapp; Assistant Superintendent Lyn Logelin; Shauna Braun-Zukowski, coordinator of curriculum, instruction and assessment and accountability; and Cheryl Soloski, coordinator of curriculum, instruction and assessment for kindergarten through sixth grade, were not available Friday afternoon to comment on the district's ratings in the performance profile.

The average score for school districts across Armstrong County was 80.1, with Kiski Area School District as the highest achiever, with an average score of 86.5, and Armstrong School District ranked lowest, with an average score of 74.6.

At West Hills Intermediate School, 44.4 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in the PSSA test in writing, while 58.54 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in reading and literature in the PSSA and Keystone exams.

The school's highest score, a 94.99 out of 100, was attributed to students' attendance rate.

Leechburg Area School District submitted a request to correct results in the test, according to Matthew Krulutz, K -12 principal.

“The email I received early today stated that our scores would not be displayed. We still want to see those scores corrected,” he said.

Even with the problems, Krulutz said, “I think this could be a good tool to help schools plan.”

The district's only elementary school, David Leech Elementary School, had below-average reading scores. Krulutz said the district is not challenging those scores.

Nearby Freeport Area School District officials do not plan to challenge the scores, according to Larry Robb, the district's program director.

“Overall, we're very pleased with the scores,” Robb said. “Of course, there are areas you're going to examine very closely. We get our PSSA and Keystone scores early in the summer, and we've been through our analysis before the release of the School Performance Profiles.”

Each year, schools go through an improvement plan that focuses on areas of concern, Robb said.

Robb said he hasn't formed an opinion yet about the new accountability system, but there are aspects that he likes compared to the old method.

Previously, poor performance of a single subgroup like poor students could cause a school to miss the mark despite good scores by students overall. That's no longer the case now that the state is focusing on growth from year to year and closing the achievement gap.

“I think it does include some items that weren't looked at before,” Robb said. “I think we need time to work through it and get used to what the expectations are.”

Last year, half of Armstrong School District's 12 schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress.

According to the Department of Education's website, Kittanning Area Junior High, Shannock Valley Elementary and West Hills Intermediate schools each missed adequate yearly progress last year, missing reading targets for special education students.

Ford City Junior/Senior High School missed its reading target for special education students, and it missed its reading target for economically disadvantaged students, while Kittanning Senior High School missed reading targets for its overall student population and its white, non-Hispanic student population.

The final school to not make adequate yearly progress last year was Elderton Junior/Senior High School, which missed its graduation target.

Each of the schools made AYP in 2011, except for Kittanning Senior High School.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or Reporting by affiliate the Valley News Dispatch contributed to this report.

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