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PSSA test results discussed at school board meeting

October 7, 2011

Photo by Colin Deppen Joseph Collins, SMASD director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, presents the PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessments) results at Thursday's meeting of the St. Marys Area School District's board of directors. Collins said that test scores for the most part are "holding steady" and above average for the state, but that there is always room for improvement.

At Monday's workshop meeting of the St. Marys Area School District's board of directors, the 2010-2011 PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessments) results were discussed and, in looking forward, means of ensuring continued success and future improvements were considered.
Joseph Collins, SMASD director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, presented the results to the board and assembled administrators. He said 75 percent of students in the St. Marys Area School District (SMASD) were shown to be proficient or advanced in reading and 84 percent in math.
In the writing assessment, a high number of 5th, 8th and 11th graders (5th, 8th and 11th graders only take the PSSA writing assessment) were shown to be proficient or advanced. Fifth, 8th and 11th grade science scores were also at or above proficiency.
Of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th grade special education students tested, an average of 57. 82 percent with those grades combined were shown to be proficient or advanced in mathematics. Of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th grade special education students tested in reading, an average of 34.5 percent in those grades combined were shown to be proficient or advanced.
Regarding the low percentage of students with special needs who tested at or above the state average in reading and math, Collins said, "The numbers don't lie. Robin (Johnson) and I, and Mrs. Kearney, and all the building principals, we're going to be working on this. These students come to us with special needs, what we're looking at is, are they showing improvement from year to year?"
Collins also commented on the slight drops in proficiency from last year's PSSA results at various grade levels and assessment areas. He said the district must continue to work toward the goal of 100 percent at or above the state level.
"The next step is to identify, 'What happened?' and that's what we're working on. Our curriculum is there, our teachers are on target," Collins said.
He added the PSSA is a "snapshot" and that the school district is "still above pace with the state targets."
Asked by SMASD Board President Joseph Goetz what the plan of action is in dealing with these drops, Collins said administrators will "review pre-populated data and develop a plan to identify root cause of the problem and how to fix that problem."
"We're still going to strive for 100 percent because that can only benefit our students," Collins said.

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