The large, keystone-shaped placards that grace the halls within the Palmerton Area School District sure didn't come easy.

For the second consecutive year, the district has received the Keystone Achievement Awards after it once again met Adequate Yearly Progress.

Sherrie Fenner, director of curriculum and instruction, said the district has made AYP in both the 2007-08 and 08-09 school years.

"We're very proud," Fenner said. "Not only every building, but the entire district, made AYP."

Fenner said the district is above the state average, and lauded everyone in the district for their role in the achievement.

"It does indicate that a lot of positive things are going on in the classroom," she said. "The teachers do so many wonderful things with our kids."

The accolade, Fenner said, only serves to further cement the fact that the district is on the right track.

"Everybody in the district is doing their part, and then some," she said. "Our teachers have been going above and beyond, and that's one place where it shows."

However, Fenner noted that the bar will be raised even higher to reach the benchmark in 2011.

"It's going to be a challenge for every school district," she said. "It's going to take the community, parents, and the school board, to help reach those goals."

As per the 2009 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, the district's attendance rate was 95.23-percent, compared to the 90-percent target rate, and its graduation rate 96.85-percent, compared to the 80-percent target rate, to meet AYP.

Based on the results, the overall percentage of students proficient and advanced in the district is higher than the state average in math, reading, science, and writing.

The district's third and fourth-grade scores in reading and math were higher than the state average, its fifth-grade scores were identical with the state, and sixth grade scores slightly higher in reading and on par in math.

However, the district's seventh-grade scores in reading and math were lower than that of the state average. Its eighth-grade reading scores were slightly higher, while its math scores were lower. And, it's 11th-grade reading scores were slightly higher, but math scores lower.

The district's fifth and eighth-grade writing scores were higher than the states, while its 11th-grade scores were lower.

Also, the district's fourth and eighth-grade science scores were higher than the states, while its 11th-grade scores were lower.

A part of the federal No Child Left Behind, AYP is an individual state's measure of yearly progress toward achieving state academic standards, or, the minimum level of improvement that states, school districts, and schools must achieve each year.

In order to meet AYP, a school or district must meet three target areas: attendance or graduation rate depending on the level of the school; participation rate, and performance on the PSSA.

At least 63 percent of students must score proficient in reading, and 56 percent in math on PSSA standardized tests.

Schools are evaluated for test performance and test participation for all students. Each subgroup represented by 40 or more students in the school must meet the AYP targets.

District targets are assessed in grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. To meet AYP goals in academic performance or test participation, the district needs to achieve all targets for both subjects in one grade span only.