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State tries to improve its rollout of school profiles

| Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Almost a year since the state bungled its disclosure of school performance profiles, Pennsylvania lacks an official release date for its latest batch, Department of Education spokesman Tim Eller said on Friday.

“We're thinking late September, but we won't have anything set in stone for at least another week,” he said.

Last year, Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq twice delayed the debut of the state's reporting website — paschoolperformance.org — because 20 percent of the state's 3,000 schools complained data were incorrect or incomplete and could reflect poorly on students and the schools they attend.

The rollout drew intense scrutiny and criticism.

Nearly every high school in the state asked the department to suppress some portion of the profile in its initial release because thousands of students, proctors and administrators failed to check a box on the newly adopted Keystone exam.

Eller said that won't happen again.

This year, teachers and students no longer had to check that box. Schools ordered two versions of the same exam — those counting for course credit and those meeting federal requirements. Students took the tests in the spring.

Districts have the next week to report any inaccuracies before contractors start updating the content online.

Results from 2013 show nearly 73 percent of public schools received a 70 or higher on a 100-point scale.

School Performance Profiles, the model approved to replace Adequate Yearly Progress goals mandated by No Child Left Behind, incorporate the results of statewide assessments, student academic growth from year to year, graduation rates, attendance and performance rates, and the academic progress of historically underperforming students such as English language learners and those from low-income households.

Gov. Tom Corbett in February proposed linking district profile scores to millions of dollars in state grant money, but that gained no traction in the Legislature.

Going forward, state officials will score schools individually. Tabulating district scores is too big an expense for very little gain, Eller said.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

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