The Pennsylvania Department of Education has announced the 2013-2014 list of low-achieving schools in the state, based on the students' combined math and reading scores for the 2011-2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.

On the list, which includes 406 school buildings in 71 school districts, are the Panther Valley Middle School and Panther Valley High School in Carbon County and Mahanoy Area High School in Schuylkill.

The Panther Valley Elementary School was not on the list.

Career and technology centers, as well as charter schools are not included on the list.

Last year, Panther Valley and Jim Thorpe school districts were listed as low-achieving schools.

The Department of Education is required by law to notify school districts that have schools identified as low-achieving no later than Feb. 1.

Within 15 days of notification by the department, school districts are required to notify parents.

Students in low-achieving schools who meet all guidelines may be eligible to apply for a scholarship through the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program, which was started by Gov. Tom Corbett last year.

The goal of the program is to provide low- and moderate-income students in low-achieving schools the opportunity to obtain a scholarship, which is funded by businesses that make contributions to scholarship organizations, to attend a participating public or nonpublic school outside of their home school district. Scholarships can only be used for tuition costs and school-related fees at participating nonpublic schools or nonresident public school districts.

For the 2013-14 school year, students who live within the attendance boundaries of one of these schools on the list may be eligible for a scholarship if their household's annual income is no greater than $75,000, plus $12,000 for each dependent member of the household.

The maximum scholarship award available to non-special education students is $8,500 and the maximum for a special education student is $15,000.

Pennsylvania businesses that donate to opportunity scholarship organizations are eligible for a tax credit through the program.

The Department of Community and Economic Development administers the tax credit program and must approve opportunity scholarship organizations based on their ability to enhance the educational opportunities for students in low-achieving schools.

For more information about the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program and on guidelines to be eligible for the grants, visit the Department of Community and Economic Development's website at www.newpa.com/ostc [1] or the Department of Education's website at www.education.state.pa.us [2] and click on the Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit program icon.

Parents who wish to apply for the scholarship should watch the DCED's website, listed above, for additional information on approved opportunity scholarship organizations that will be accepting applications at a future date.