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Haverford School Board Reflects on PSSA Scores

The Haverford School Board reflected on the results of the 2011-12 PSSA results at a school board meeting on Oct. 4.

Although Haverford School District made AYP for 2012, Haverford High School did not. In fact, Haverford High School was among 12 high schools in Delaware County who did not make AYP for 2012. 

But, Haverford Superintendent William Keilbaugh stated that Haverford High School's math and reading combined PSSA scores are actually stronger than 83 percent of Pennsylvania high schools' combined PSSA scores, according to schooldigger.com.

In addition, Haverford High School students increased their PSSA scores by 7.7 percent in math and by 4.2 percent in reading over the last two years, according to Keilbaugh. But due to the ever-increasing AYP targets, Haverford High School did not make AYP for 2012. 

Since the high school is now in School Improvement 2, Haverford  School District will now have to supply the Pennsylvania Department of Education with a detailed improvement plan in accordance with Pennsylvania regulations. A few steps include: reviewing IEPs of students scoring basic or below basic; identifying specific needs based on present levels of educational performance; AIMSweb and OSCAR baseline and progress monitoring data to drive instruction; and ensuring fidelity of instructional delivery of Project READ through observation and ongoing data.

"It was dressed up as accountability and making everyone put their noses to the grind stone and making sure every youngster received a proper education. Now it's clear that disguise is nothing more than a political agenda," said Keilbaugh at last Thursday's board meeting regarding the No Child Left Behind Law. "It's not about what it started out to be."

Keilbaugh stressed that PSSA scores are not the only things to look at while looking at the district. Newsweek ranked Haverford High School 31 in the state based on a number of criteria including graduation rate, AP scores and SAT scores.

School Board Members Speak Out on AYP Targets

At the last school board meeting on Oct. 4, several members of the school board voiced their concerns about the state's lofty AYP targets in which every school district must reach 100 percent proficiency in math and reading. 

Here's what they had to say:

"In No Child Left Behind Law, it tells us that in 2014, 100 percent of our students need to be advanced or proficient. I think it's pretty safe to say next year and the following school year, this will be a failing school district as well as almost every other school district in the country. We have some great scores here and that's wonderful. I certainly understand the hard work of the students and staff that's gone into this. It just seems to me that there’s an inordinate amount of time, energy, resources, money going into this exercise that could be better much spent on educating our children. I know we need accountability. I know we need to measure these things. But all these tests that we've been talking about tonight have nothing to do with improving student performance. They're not improving instruction. We’re going through a political exercise where it’s an end game to say our public schools are failing and therefore privatize public education." – Lawrence Feinberg

"At some point, if you indicted everybody, nobody's a criminal. So if you show all school districts across the state fail, then it will show the system is shameless and has no validity. I think, at hand, it’s being overplayed. So when you have the western suburb districts all showing as failing, the credibility of that system is just lost." – Joseph Martin

"We also need to look at where we were years ago and I think the law has helped in certain areas. There are aspects of the law that made us look back and help children in ways that we didn't realize before. When this first came out, many of us sat here not believing that the law would still be in place in 2014, and we would ever be held to 100 percent–that someone would wake up at some point in time and say, 'this is unrealistic.' But, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have changed. It seems to get worse." – Denis Gray, Haverford school board president

"There is an instructional value to this test. The issue is there's a time issue. I disagree that these are purely for political purposes. The politics in this and a small pea is what we're dealing with are clearly unreasonable standards. They've gotten to the point where by maintaining the standards, another dimension comes into play. If you exclude the students on IEP...the numbers say that all of our schools in every subject area, in every test and every grade level, when you focus on regular education students, we made AYP across the board. And I've said this every year, the IEP standard is an inappropriate standard. It's unfair to stigmatize this district and other school districts because it's difficult enough for regular educational students to be proficient on all levels, but it's just nonsensical for kids with IEP." – Philip Hopkins

Do you agree with these school board members? Tell us in the comments.

JEFFREY October 12, 2012 at 05:42 AM
I think I am reading the school board, or at least Mr. Denis Gray, is saying that because students with an IEP and statistically are somewhat lower functioning students, bring Haverford High School's AYP down and if they did not have to count those, the school would be rated very high. My question is, does Haveford High School have an "unbalanced" number of IEP students compared to other schools in Delaware County? If so, I believe the article I read in the Philadelphia Magazine already took that into consideration. I don't know if the scores are accurate and I feel the school board must (and should) defend itself. I graduated Haverford years ago and my 2 children graduated Haverford with excellent grades. I can't believe that in the 5 years or so since my son graduated, that the scores dropped to that level. I would challenge the survey scores instead of complaining that if they didn't have so many student with learning impediments, they would have made the grade. I remember quite well the district was putting pressure on my son to take the test because they knew, even with his IEP, his grades would up their average, which it did.
JEFFREY October 12, 2012 at 05:46 AM
This is not new. It's been going on for quite some time. It's time to give those students with IEP's the help they need to make that grade (if possible), rather than use it as an excuse for not making the grade. I know Haverford can do it. They have been a top performing school from the time I graduated, to many years to count, to the time my children graduated. As a suggestion, you may want to look at the quality of special education teachers and the training they have received related to the student's disabilities, and see if there is any need for further training. I had to push the school district to learn about my son's disabilities because they had no idea how to help someone with Asperger's Syndrome at the time. I know that a lot of teachers there did get some additional training in that area. Maybe time for training or re-training in restorative practices. I'm looking forward to a much better outlook next year.

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