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Punxsy students hit PSSA targets, but higher goals are on the horizon

October 11, 2011

Richard Galluzzi, PASD director of federal programs and curriculum

PUNXSUTAWNEY — Students in the Punxsutawney Area School District meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP) on the PSSA exams is not a new development: They have been doing so for years, according to Richard Galluzzi, director of federal programs and curriculum.

"I'm so happy to announce this every year," he said Tuesday. "This town needs to be proud of its teachers and its students. They work hard and listen to the teachers."

Monday, Galluzzi told the Punxsutawney Area School Board that in 2010 and 2011, students achieved AYP across the board, and Tuesday, he detailed some of the results.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), AYP, as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, holds local education agencies accountable to students, their parents, teachers and the community.

"The purpose of AYP is to ensure that all students have reading and math skills that prepare them for the future," the PDE Web site said.

The law states that all students must reach the proficient level or higher in reading or language arts and mathematics by 2014.

School districts and schools must show AYP on several measurable indicators, such as attendance or graduation rate; academic performance; and test participation.

In the Punxsy district in both 2010 and 2011, students scored proficient in all areas: Academic performance and test participation in reading and math.

Galluzzi said, however, that some students at both the high school and middle school helped their schools scores through use of certain safety nets.

The PDE Web site said special education students and those requiring an IEP used safety nets known as Safe Harbor with Confidence Level for the reading and math academic performance.

PDE said confidence intervals (CI) take into account the fact that the students tested in any particular year might not be representative of students in that school across the years. Confidence intervals control for this sampling error or variation across years by promoting schools or subgroups that come very close to achieving their performance goals, thus meeting their specific goal.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Education approved a 95 percent CI in Pennsylvania for AYP performance calculations, PDE said. A 75 percent CI can be used for meeting the Safe Harbor target.

Also at PAMS, economically disadvantaged students hit their targets in reading in the academic performance category using the growth model (GM) which, according to PDE, recognizes the efforts of schools whose students have not achieved proficiency but are on trajectories towards proficiency on future PSSA exams.

Meanwhile, at the high school, economically-disadvantaged students hit their required targets in math under the academic performance category using a CI that controls this sampling error or variation across years by promoting schools or subgroups that come very close to achieving their performance goals, thus meeting their specific goal, PDE said.
The targets will continue to increase and students and teachers reach for goals of 100 percent in 2014. Before that, target percentages will be 81 percent proficient or better in reading, and 78 percent proficient or better in math in 2012; and 91 percent proficient or better in reading, and 89 percent proficient or better in math in 2013.

All the credit for these AYP successes goes to the students and teachers, Galluzzi said.

"It's really because of the hard work of these students and the teachers that they continue to show achievement, especially in the areas of reading and math as tested by the PSSAs," he said.

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