Montrose Area administrators reviewed Keystone and PSSA testing data with the school board at Monday night’s meeting.
The results are not all positive, High School Principal Bill King said.
On the Keystone algebra exam, Montrose Area fell just shy of the state average in students who scored in the proficient or advanced levels; and were 11th out of the 20 schools in the intermediate unit.
On the biology and literature exams, Montrose finished above the state averages; ranking fourth in the IU on the biology test, and seventh in the literature exam.
But the 7th and 8th grade PSSA scores show some areas where work is needed.
In 7th grade math, the school fell below the state average
by just under 10 percent; ranking 14th out of 20 in the IU; and in 8th grade math, the Montrose Area students scored below the state average, with only 21.5 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced on the test.
English/Language Arts were also problematic for 8th grade test takers. Students scoring proficient or advanced on the test were 10 percent less than the state average, with the district ranking 19th out of the IU’s 20 school districts.
But 8th grade test takers beat out the state average by 12 percentage points. “When it comes to biology and science, we seem to be hitting it out of the park,” King said.
Administrators are looking at the test data in an effort to determine the program’s strengths and weaknesses, and plan to be leaning more heavily on curriculum mapping in subjects where improvement is needed.
King said administrators would be working with the teaching staff, but also other local school districts who are doing well in certain subject areas.
Assistant Principal Eric Powers said there is also a focus on student growth.
Administrators in the district will be placing a new focus on curriculum.
Powers said, “A significant curriculum revision is critical.”
“It’s hard to meet the standards when you’ve not written curriculum in eight to ten years,” Choconut Valley Principal Chris McComb told the board. “Students not being here two weeks before the test probably didn’t help either,” he added, referring to the teachers’ strike in the spring.
King said he was not proud of the scores. “I don’t want to see (Montrose Area) ranked 11th, 12th or 14th, I want us to be one of the top schools in the IU.”
The testing scores affect the district’s School Performance Profile. Those SPP rankings will be rolled out to the public soon, King said.
Curriculum – which used to have about a $250,000 line item in the district budget – has not been funded in over seven years, McComb said.
But that’s not to say it’s been ignored, Powers added.
Jack Kiehl, a middle school mathematics teacher, said he questioned the (PSSA) test as much as anything else. Kiehl said that in past years, 8th grade students had scored proficient or advanced on the Keystone algebra exam (established by the state as a graduation requirement), but at the basic level on the 8th grade PSSA.
Kiehl said he thought that just looking at standardized test scores didn’t paint the real picture of the district. “There’s a pile of good things happening here, no matter what the scores say,” he said.