PAHS students achieving state-mandated education goals

PUNXSUTAWNEY — If your children seem to enjoy going to school in the Punxsutawney Area School District, they’re not fooling you, according to data from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Director of Federal Programs and Curriculum for the district, Richard Galluzzi, reported that the district continues to have a high percentage of students who graduate and attend school on a regular basis.

“The graduation rate for the district is 92 percent for all students and 94 percent for attendance,” Galluzzi said. “I think that sends a message about Punxsutawney schools that it is a safe environment, and the kids like coming to school.”

Students, he said, seem to have a personal connection to the district.

Galluzzi pointed out that all of the schools in Punxsy’s district achieved AYP targets this year.

“The targets are the percentage of students who needed to score proficiency or above in both reading and math,” he said. “Starting back in 2002, the AYP target was 45 percent for reading and improved to 63 percent in 2010, and this year, the target is 72 percent.”

Galluzzi reported that the PSSA AYP target for math in 2002 was 35 percent; 2010 it increased to 56 percent and has grown to 67 percent for this year.

“The target increases every year. In the past, there has always been a three-year plateau, where it was the same target for three years,” he said. “Now, it increases every year up until 2014, when it increases to 100 percent.”

Galluzzi pointed out that the district also gives district students the Foursite Test, which is a benchmark test that monitors students’ progress throughout the year.

“We give it three times a year at the high school and four times a year at the middle school,” Galluzzi said, adding that the PSSA is a summative test the district administers cials also monitor students’ achievement from one year to the next.

“There’s an improvement on reading and math skills because the focus is on that,” he said. “When it comes to 2014, we’re going to reach for 100 percent. A lot of people in the district squirm when I send that message to the teachers and to the students.”

Galluzzi added that since the goal is 100 percent, then that’s what the district will strive to meet.

“I don’t want to hear that we can’t make it,” he said. “I’ve always fallen back on that quote, ‘If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’”

Galluzzi added that “No Child Left Behind” focuses on all children, no matter what group or category.

“Our most common subgroups are white male and female, IEP (individual education plan) and economically disadvantaged,” he said. “The district’s overall percentage of students who are proficient and above in math is 73 percent, and reading is 74 percent.

“Each school in the district receives a report card. Anyone who is interested in looking at those results may view them on the district Web site at,” Galluzzi said, adding that the district is going to begin having students take the Keystone Exams, which are subject-specific tests.

“It’s an exam that is given when a student completes a course such as Algebra I,” Galluzzi explained. “The plan is for the Keystones to take the place of the 11th-grade PSSAs, but they’ve not been approved by the Federal Department of Education as of yet.

“We’re starting to administer those this year. In the end, there’ll be 10 Keystone Exams,” he said. “Currently, students are asked questions on a test on material that they learned two years earlier.”

Galluzzi added that there’s not any data on how much of an impact technology has had on a student’s ability to learn.

“It’ll be interesting to see how 21st Century Learning and One to One Computing will have on future PSSA and Keystone Exams,” he said.