District receives Keystone Achievement Awards
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Palmerton Area School District administrators pictured with the Keystone Achievement Awards the district received for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years include (l-r) Christine Steigerwalt, principal, Towamensing Elementary, Kathy Egan, principal, high school, Mary Brumbach, principal, S.S. Palmer Elementary/Parkside Education Center, Sherrie Fenner, director of curriculum and instruction, and Carol Boyce, superintendent.
At this rate, soon Palmerton Area School District won't have enough wall space to showcase its educational accolades.
Yet again, the district has received the Keystone Achievement Awards for its ability to meet Adequate Yearly Progress, said Sherrie Fenner, director of curriculum and instruction.
Fenner said four of the five buildings in the district received the Keystones: Towamensing Elementary, S.S. Palmer Elementary, Parkside Education Center, and the high school.
However, Fenner said the junior high school did not receive a Keystone because it's currently on warning status. In order for it to be taken off, it must create an improvement plan to submit to the State Department of Education by the end of June and make AYP.
"It's a team approach," Fenner said. "It does help the district focus on our needs."
Despite that, Fenner said the district as a whole has succeeded in its quest to meet AYP.
"I think the district has worked hard, and implemented several changes trying to work with the best practices to give the kids the best education," she said. "Making AYP for two years in a row, helps us to see we're doing good work."
As per the 2009-10 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, the district's attendance rate was 95.13 percent, compared to the 90-percent target rate, and its graduation rate was 96.06 percent, compared to the 85-percent graduation goal, or target of 82.5 percent.
The overall percentage of students proficient and advanced in the district is higher than the state average in reading, but slightly less than the state average in math, science and writing.
The district's third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade scores in math were higher than the state average, while its third, fourth, and sixth grade scores in reading were higher, but its fifth grade scores in reading lower than the state average.
But, the district's seventh, eighth and 11th grade scores in math and reading were well below the state average.
The district's fourth grade scores in science were higher than the state average, with the eighth and 11th grade scores slightly below average, while the district's fifth, eighth and 11th grade scores in writing were below that of the state average.
Fenner also noted that students may take a Keystone Exam as one of four options under the state's new system of high school graduation requirements.
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.