Downingtown Area School District

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Superintendent's Update for 10/14/16

Superintendent’s Update for 10/14/16


School Performance Profiles


The Pennsylvania Department of Education has recently released the latest School Performance Profile (SPP).  What has changed this year?  A great deal. I want to caution parents to avoid comparing this year’s school 3-8 scores with the scores your school received in 2014 because they are based on two different tests.   The newly released School Performance Profile includes for the first time the scores from the new Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests (PSSA) that are more rigorous than the old assessments.  


While I don’t want to diminish the information contained on your child’s school profile, you need to look at the results from a different perspective this year.  Rather than have a school’s performance based solely on a high stakes test, the new SPP takes into consideration (as PDE says in its press release) a more “holistic” approach to determining a school’s yearly performance.  One important expectation is how much growth a school showed in closing the achievement gap between all students to all students and historically underperforming students to historically underperforming students.  The “historically underperforming student” subgroup would include English Language Learners, students with IEPs and the economically disadvantaged.


Let’s take for an example, Shamona Creek. Shamona Creek has consistently been a high performing school and received a 2016 SPP score of 94.6, which is the highest elementary school score in Chester County.  That high score was not just based on academic achievement but also as a result of closing some of the achievement gaps between the groups I mentioned above.  Shamona Creek earned a score of 100 in closing the achievement gap in math for both groups.  They also earned a score of 100 in closing the achievement gap between the “all” student group in English Language Arts.  So how are we using Shamona’s SPP results?   Shamona needs to work on increasing achievement for “all” students and “historically underperforming” in the 4th grade science area. Neither group showed an achievement increase in this area so we can now target science this year in the 4th grade while maintaining and increasing growth in all other areas. 


One of our Title 1 schools, Lionville Elementary, had a great score of 86.7.  Part of the reason for this was the improvement in math scores from 2015 to 2016 for the “all” students and the “historically underperforming” groups.  Lionville received scores of 100 in their efforts to close the math achievement gap for both groups.  Lionville’s score might have higher, but they missed both group’s targeted scores in English Language Arts and Science.  Working to meet next year’s targeted goals in these areas will be our focus for the year in Lionville. 


The bottom line is this.   Our schools need to increase achievement.  Even though we are a high achieving district, we can do better.   With the new SPP, even if you maintain your high achievement scores from one year to the next, you will get a 0 toward your SPP.   So you can see it is all about growth.  


We have many students who earn an advanced designation on the PSSA or Keystones, but if they don’t exceed their growth expectation from one year to the next, their lack of growth will impact the points and score of the entire school.  This indicator of academic growth, as the state calls it, can be seen in Pickering Valley scores in science, for example. 95% of the students at Pickering are designated advanced or proficient on the grade 4 science test, which is a wonderful accomplishment.  However, Pickering received only a portion of the 100 points they could receive in science because the SPP requires even the highest achieving students to academically grow.  Complicated – yes!  Does the new profile help us?  Yes, because we can use this information to further increase our children’s achievement and growth in their needed areas - and isn’t that our goal. 


Kudos to our three high schools.  DHS West earned a score of 94.5.  DHS East received a 90. DHS West and DHS East both had 4 perfect scores of 100.  They received two 100 points in the areas of algebra 1 for all students and historically performing students, and two 100 points in biology for both groups as well.   What we know from both school’s SPP is that we need to dig deeper into increasing the achievement gap in Literature even further for both subgroups.   The STEM Academy again made the list of top high schools in Pennsylvania with a score of 99.2.  STEM’s targeted focus will need to be in literature academic growth. 


In conclusion, it is going to take a few years for the PSSA scores for grades 3 – 8 to stabilize due to this new test.  We saw this stabilization occur with the Keystone exam.   The Pittsburgh Business Tribune just acknowledged our efforts on the Keystones, ranking DASD as one of the top 10 Pennsylvania districts based on the 11th grade Keystone achievement results.  That is something to celebrate.  It is an achievement that could only have happened due to the efforts taking place in all 16 DASD schools; by our students, staff and teachers and with the continuing support our community gives us in helping to provide a high quality and rigorous education for all students.   


Chester County School Districts 


SPP Table  

Rankings - 18 Chester County Middle Schools:

Downingtown Middle 9th

Lionville Middle 11th

Marsh Creek 12th


Rankings - 56 Chester County Elementary Schools 

Shamona Creek El Sch 1st

West Bradford El Sch 8th

Lionville El Sch 12th

Bradford Hgts El Sch 15th

Brandywine-Wallace El Sch 19th

Springton Manor El Sch 21st

Uwchlan Hills El Sch 28th

East Ward El Sch 42nd

Pickering Valley El Sch 43rd

Beaver Creek El Sch 48th