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Norwin pleased with rankings on state profiles

| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Norwin School District officials expressed satisfaction with the district's recently released school assessment scores from the state Department of Education.

The School Performance Profiles rank each building in a district on a scale from zero to 100, or up to 107 with extra credit. Each building in Norwin was above what the state considers passing — above 70 points.

Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Tracy McNelly said that overall, the district's Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exam scores were similar to last year's.

This year, the state switched school assessments from Adequate Yearly Progress to School Performance Profiles, which take more data into consideration for the overall scores.

While some districts in Pennsylvania opted to suppress some data because of errors, Norwin has released the scores for all of its buildings because they did not have the common error of marking Keystone Exams incorrectly.

Sheridan Terrace Elementary School scored the highest with a 91.3. That elementary also has the highest number of students who are economically disadvantaged. Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education Natalie McCracken said that the school performed well on the PSSA scores, but also on the new important component of how well students have improved over the last year.

The other elementary schools in the district all fell in the 70s. and 80s:

• Hahntown, 73.8

• Stewartsville, 77.7

• Sunset Valley, 82.6

• Hillcrest, 70.9

Norwin Middle School scored an 89.4 and the high school scored an 85.4. McNelly said that those two schools typically perform very highly.

“I'm happy with these scores,” she said.

Next year, the curriculum will be more aligned with the Common Core standards that are tested on the exams and the district has put several intervention programs into place to help raise student scores.

Board member Thomas Sturm expressed concern that the overall building scores could confuse parents because schools with very high PSSA and Keystone Exam scores could have lower overall scores if those students didn't see very high growth in scores. Meanwhile, a school with low scores but high growth would have a higher overall score because of the way the department calculates the final scores.

McNelly agreed that it could be confusing, and that the district has the responsibility to explain to parents what the numbers mean.

“This is a disservice to the general public,” Sturm said.

Norwin is considering a dual enrollment program with Indiana University of Pennsylvania that would allow students in grades 11 and 12 to enroll in as many as two college courses online. The students would be responsible for the cost of the courses.

Kate Wilcox is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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