USC questions new progress ratings

Published Nov 18, 2013 at 10:26 am (Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 10:26 am)

The Upper St. Clair School Board members are asking the administration to help them understand the new assessment ratings recently released by the state, which replaced the Adequate Yearly Progress ratings under No Child Left Behind.

Eloise Stoehr, supervisor of pupil personnel services, told the board Nov. 12 that the state has received a waiver from the federal government to enable states to be more specific about measures for the targets they wanted.

She said the waiver had to address whether students were college and career ready at graduation.

Stoehr said that in addition to standardized test scores such as the Keystone tests, what is being measured now includes test participation rates, graduation rates, attendance rates and showing that historically under-performing students are making progress. These students include ones for whom English is not a first language, special education students and economically disadvantaged students.

Sharon Suritsky, assistant superintendent, said this is a more sophisticated model than Adequate Yearly Progress.

She said it was interesting that the Pennsylvania Department of Education was intent on capturing each school building with a single number. She said by its nature it’s meant to elicit comparisons.

“It’s a very new wrinkle for us,” Suritsky said.

Stoehr said that school districts got the 2012-2013 ratings from the state just a day or two before they went public.

Several school board members suggested that the new rating system, and how it is being used to make administrative decisions, is something they’d like to understand better. Specifically, they mentioned concern about the disparity among ratings of the three elementary schools in the district.

Based on a 100-point scale, Eisenhower Elementary received a rating of 97.9. Baker and Streams elementary schools fell well below that with Baker receiving an 82.2 score and Streams receiving an 80.9 score.

Board member Angela Petersen said she would like to understand why they are not seeing the growth at Baker and Streams that they are seeing at Eisenhower.

“I am perplexed when I look at these numbers,” she said.

Superintendent Patrick O’Toole said the administration would look at scheduling other opportunities to discuss this issue with the school board.

Other district building performance ratings were: 95.1 for Boyce Middle School, 96.8 for Fort Couch Middle School and 94.3 for Upper St. Clair High School.

The public can view the data at

In other business Nov. 12, the school board:

Terminated its annual contract with Matthews Bus Company – now owned by Durham School Services – to manage busing for the district for $178,000 per year. The board reverted school bus management back to district employees, and hired the two main managers that had been working for Matthews. John Mansfield has been hired as director of transportation at a salary of $78,500. Kevin Hillman has been hired as transportation supervisor at a salary of $30,880. A third position created Nov. 12 – of transportation assistant – has not yet been filled.

Changed the title of Joseph Conners from school police lieutenant to chief of police. His salary will be $51,278.

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