School 'ready' on new state report card

Students are used to receiving report cards gauging their academic progress, and they are not alone. Every year, each school in PA is graded on various aspects of its success over the last year.

The results for the 2017-2018 school year were released December, providing updated information on every school’s progress.

This year, the state has shifted from the PA School Performance Profile to the Future Ready PA Index as the public gauge of schools. While the PA School Performance Profile is still made, it is now primarily used for teacher and administrator evaluations.

“[The Future Ready PA Index is] will give the public a better visual of what’s happening in schools rather than just scores because unfortunately, most of this report card is reflective of our progress on the algebra literature and biology Keystone examinations,” said Principal Nicole Malinoski. “Although the three are important, we do so many other great things here, not only at Cedar Crest High School but in every school across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The percent of students proficient or advanced in English Language Arts/Literature, Mathematics/Algebra and Science/Biology all exceed the statewide average. The English and Mathematics scores are only 1% or less below the statewide goal for 2030.

“I would definitely say that, as a school, we were really focused as a team to not only make growth in those three areas, literature, algebra and biology, but also hit a performance target,” said Malinoski. “I attribute it right back to our literature, biology, and algebra teachers for giving it their best to make sure students know the content so they can perform their best on the exam.”

The KEY periods were added last year to prepare students for the Keystones outside of class. They allow students to focus on the topics they struggle in and receive assistance.

“I think that having [KEY periods] was a benefit for us as far as seeing growth,” said head of the math department Shane Thomas. “More than anything I think one of the reasons we see growth is just having a lot more students take their Keystones a little more seriously.”

While the percentage advanced for Mathematics and Science exceed the statewide average, only 5.2% scored Advance on the English Keystones comparative to the 18.3% state average. Last week, Malinoski held a meeting of sophomores to encourage them to work to their potential on this exam, held this Monday and Tuesday.

“For many of those students, this is the third Keystone exam and they might be suffering from exam burn-out,” said Malinoski. “I met with them and told them the importance of doing their best on the exam.

“It’s very important for those students to give it their best so that, number one, we see growth, but number two, they get an advanced score on their transcript and that it shows the overall success of our school.”

The Career Standards Benchmark portion of the Profile shows a 95.9% overall grade based on student preparation for future careers. 92.2% of students completed a work-based learning experience, mostly through the job shadow requirement for Project LIFE. This led to a 92.8% grade in Industry-Based Learning, comparative to the 23.8% statewide average.

“High school is a time to explore things and I think it’s very important to get out into the real world and job shadow to see what you like,” said Malinoski. “I do think that’s an essential part of our curriculum to make sure that we are opening the door to more opportunities for our students to make it out in the real world.”

In the PA School Performance Profile, the overall score increased from last year’s grade of 66.6% to 79.5%. 72% of senior students were proficient in algebra, 80% proficient in literature and 73% proficient in biology.

“I’m happy that our scores went up,” said English teacher Melinda Welliver. “I had a good number of kids advanced and a higher number of kids proficient last year so I was happy about that.”

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