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Greater Latrobe board marks successes, concerns

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Greater Latrobe School District reviewed a portion of its comprehensive plan that is required by the state and will take effect in the 2014-15 school year.

Administrators Michael Porembka and Georgia Teppert this week explained the process to school board members, including changes from the previously required six-year strategic plan to the three-year model.

The new comprehensive plan begins with each building, then combines them as a district, said Porembka, director of teaching and learning.

“Change needs to come from the building level; it needs to start in the buildings,” he said on Tuesday.

He and Teppert focused on the standards, curriculum, instruction and assessment portion. The plan includes information on safe and supportive schools, materials and resources, professional education and special education.

Each building had to complete its own school profile, then address how curriculum and instruction were aligned with district standards during the first phase.

After analyzing data, each building identified specific accomplishments and concerns.

“I think it's important to look at the accomplishments of the school district and, while we're proud of those accomplishments, we've also identified our concerns and put a plan into place to address those concerns,” Porembka said.

Among the noted achievements were attendance exceeding 90 percent, assessment test participation at 99 percent and a graduation rate at 95 percent.

The district boasts SAT score averages higher than state and national averages, while establishing programs such as dual enrollment for college credits, an online academic program for every grade level and career-awareness curriculum.

“Our standard is well above the standards a lot of other folks set for themselves,” Porembka told the board.

In the plan, Greater Latrobe also recognized technology achievements, including interactive whiteboards in all classrooms through ninth grade, integration of the bring-your-own-device program and a wireless Internet connection throughout each district building.

Concerns addressed included certain groups of students, such as those who are economically disadvantaged and some who are attending Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center, who do not perform at the same level academically as others.

The administrators also recognized declines from fourth to fifth grade on state assessments tests as a concern.

The plan calls for three goals, including a system in the district that meets standards-aligned curricula across all schools for all students, Teppert said.

Once those curricula are created, the second goal is to assess student achievement, then adjust, if necessary, including the third goal, effective instructional practices, Porembka said.

“If they're not getting it, we have to go back and repeat it because we're being tested on those standards,” he said.

The public can review the plan for 30 days — online or at the central office — before the board will vote to submit it to the state Department of Education at its Nov. 19 meeting.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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