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Armstrong gets a gold star for the 2007-08 school year

Renatta Signorini
| Friday, Aug. 15, 2008

Armstrong School District gets a gold star for the 2007-08 school year.

The district, along with others who school county students, made Adequate Yearly Progress toward being proficient in math and reading under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Three AYP targets -- test participation, attendance/graduation rate and academic performance -- measure whether a district or school are making adequate progress toward the goal of being 100 percent proficient by 2014.

Although Armstrong School District met the standard, six schools within the district were placed on a warning list, which means the school didn't meet proficiency targets. According to the district, the warning placements were the result of certain subgroups of students at those schools that did not meet the targets.

Larry Robb, assistant superintendent for K-12 education said it is sometimes difficult for special education students to reach proficiency standards because they are expected to meet the same benchmarks as their peers.

Because of the size of schools in the district, one or two students can make the difference between meeting AYP standards and falling short, he said. The schools on the warning list are not failing, he said, but need to adjust instruction based on students' needs.

Teaching approaches have to be molded every year based on what is necessary to help a particular student succeed, he said.

"It's definitely a team effort," he said, from students, teachers, administration and parents.

The district's administration and faculty examine data from state and internal assessment tests to determine where the students are at in their progress throughout the school year, Robb said. The administration and faculty work as teams to determine what was successful and look at new students coming in when making school improvement plans, he said.

Some curriculum changes are being phased in at the high school level, Robb said. A new elementary math series will be implemented this year.

"We definitely are proactive in our approach," he said.

The percentages of students required to be proficient have increased from the 2006-07 standard, Robb said. In 2007-08, 63 percent of students had to be proficient in reading, while 56 percent needed to achieve proficiency in math, he said. Last year's standards required 45 percent of students be proficient in math and 54 percent in reading, he said.

According to district officials, 75 percent of ASD students grades 3-11 achieved proficiency in reading and math during the 2007-08 school year. Also, the graduation rate increased from 87 percent to 91 percent.

Lenape Technical School did not meet AYP targets for the second year, according to the department of education. Improvement is needed in math and reading proficiency by all students and reading test participation by a special education group, according to the department of education.

The school did meet AYP targets for graduation.

School officials could not be reached yesterday afternoon.

Additional Information:

Details

All of the school districts with Armstrong County students, except Lenape Technical School, met Adequate Yearly Progress standards set by the state that ensure schools meet goals for math and reading skills.

The following schools within those districts that did not meet all of the required targets were placed at a 'warning' status level: Apollo-Ridge elementary and middle schools; Elderton elementary, Ford City Junior-Senior High School, Kittanning junior and senior high schools and West Shamokin Junior-Senior High Schools (ASD). Each school was within one or two targets of meeting the AYP standards.

Because a school does not meet AYP standards does not necessarily mean it is a failing school, just that improvement is needed in certain areas to meet the guidelines according to the state department of education.

To find out how your school did, go online

All information from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

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