UCFSD students continue to excel

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District presents high-flying 2014 student achievement report

By Karen Cresta, Correspondent, The Times

UCFTestScoresEAST MARLBOROUGH — The regular Unionville-Chadds Ford school board meeting held Monday night was full of test acronyms, measurements, percentages and rankings along with discussions of how to continue growth for students, especially when there is not much more room to increase scores for advanced students.

Kenneth Batchelor, Assistant to the Superintendent, and John Nolen, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, presented the results for the annual district achievement report.

The presentation lasted almost 90 minutes inclusive of time spent on questions and answers and comments from the board.  It provided test results for the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSAs), Keystone exams, SATs and Advanced Placement (AP) exams.  The Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment (PVAA) results provided growth data to add to the achievement data for a comprehensive picture.

“What our students are achieving is extraordinary,” Batchelor said.

The achievement report is several snapshots of how the students in the district are progressing academically based on testing results. Batchelor indicated that it is important to challenge students appropriately and unlock their potential.   The school performance profile indicated that five out of the six buildings improved from 2013 for PSSAs and Keystone exams and five buildings were above 90 – a perfect score with 7 points for extra credit is 107.  A score of 90 or above is considered a school of excellence.

“We are proud of all our scores and even the growth in the scores,” added Batchelor.

A board goal was to improve beyond the three year average for PSSA test results.  The students’ total three year average for Math was 93.8 and for Reading was 93.1 percent.  The overall percentage of proficient and advanced results for 2014 was 95.3 for Math and 93.9 percent for Reading (2013 results were 94.4 for Math and 92.2 percent for Reading). The goals were exceeded.

This is the highest score we ever had in Math… and in Reading the highest ever was 94 percent so we are right there as well,” John Sanville, Superintendent, stated.

“As we get higher and higher, the more difficult it is to show improvement. This is the eighth achievement report that I’ve been associated with and this is pretty impressive. Maybe, the best I’ve ever seen,” Sanville added.

Board member Jeff Hellrung summarized, “…there has been a relentless focus on the individual student… by teacher, by school and by district and when you see that data, you’ll see a strong commitment to improvement and achieving that improvement.”

The culture of improvement includes growth for the individual student and selectivity for college admission and raising the district’s profile and standards of excellence.

“Good curriculum and good instruction should test well,” added Nolen.

Some board members discussed the importance of the teachers putting individual plans in place to address the 4-6 percent of the students that scored basic or below basic on the PSSAs. An aggressive goal is to have 100 percent of the students at proficient or advanced.  This includes the challenge of continued growth for even the most advanced.

The individual elementary grades were reviewed.  Overall, the grades scored well as proficient or advanced.  For example, eighth graders did a phenomenal job in scoring way above the state averages.  The scores were as follows: Math 95 percent/state 74 percent; Reading 98 percent/state 80 percent; Science 89 percent/state 61 percent; Writing 94 percent/state 74 percent.  The biggest gap between percentages was in Science.

The Keystone exams were administered to assess proficiency in a subject area.  The results of the exam determine eligibility for graduation beginning with the class of 2017 (tenth graders).  Students must pass all three Keystone exams – and must be proficient or advanced to pass. Students who score lower need to retake the exam (can retake it multiple times) or obtain a waiver (Individual Education Plan or IEP) or complete a project-based assessment after two attempts if the superintendent signs a waiver.

The overall results for the exams showed improvement in the subject areas of Algebra and Biology with the exception of Literature remaining the same from 2013 to 2014 at 89 percent.

The PVAA is another measurement based on no child left behind to show statistical analysis that at least students have grown even if they didn’t meet proficient or advanced scores based on state results. The measurement indicates color-coded growth and results are evaluated and looked at in concert with everything else.  It provides growth data to add to achievement data across time and compares group academic success to prior data.  It helps with the comprehensive picture when also looking at achievement tests such as PSSAs.

Based on the results of PVAA, the top performing students have struggled with continuous growth but overall the district is very happy with the growth shown in elementary levels such as Concepts in Math (Singapore). The performance profile for the district is 40 percent based on growth so it is an important initiative to look at over time.

The SAT results for 2014 were 590 in Math and 570 in Reading for a total average score of 1160. Students exceeded in Math and were slightly below in Reading for the state comparison for the three-year average.  (96 percent of graduated seniors moved on to college in 2013.)

There were1083 students enrolled in various or multiple AP classes.  The AP exams were taken on a voluntary basis and 924 students took them (70 percent participation rate) and obtained an average score of 4.07 out of a possible 5 (94 percent scored a 3 or better).  Seniors who took at least one AP exam during their high school career and scored at least a 3 or better was 54.5 percent.

The class of 2014 had 19 semi-finalists for the National Merit Scholars and 20 commended based on how well they did taking the PSAT in their junior year.  Finalists may qualify for scholarships and will be announced soon.

“Having 19 semi-finalists for 2014 is quite commendable,” Batchelor noted.

We are happy and proud for our students as they move forward in their education and program. We want to thank everyone… our students, our teachers, our parents, our support staff and administration.  Looking at our test scores, it is a reflection of our entire program and a reflection of everybody’s contribution,” Batchelor concluded.

The complete presentation will be available on the board’s website at www.ucfsd.org.

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