PSSA scores released officially

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania has released overall and school-by-school results for last spring’s PSSA tests.

Statewide, there was a slight increase in the overall percentage of students scoring proficient or above on the test, and about two-thirds of schools were declared to have met their federal learning targets, or "adequate yearly progress" (AYP).

This year, to make AYP, the target for schools rose to 67 percent proficient in math and 72 percent proficient in reading. But there are other ways to make AYP, including through the so-called "growth model" in which the school does not reach the target but shows significant improvement.

Districtwide here in Philadelphia, 59 percent of students were proficient or advanced in math and 53 percent in reading.

The data also show the persistence of significant achievement gaps among White and Asian compared to Black and Latino students across the state and in Philadelphia.

For instance, in District schools 75 percent of White students and 85 percent of Asian students were proficient or advanced in math, compared to 53 percent of Black students and 55 percent of Hispanics. In reading, 70 percent of Whites and 72 percent of Asians were proficient or advanced compared to 47 percent of Blacks and 46 percent of Latinos.

In Philadelphia, Renaissance charter schools, which were all elementary or middle schools, showed significant jumps in proficiency levels from 2010. At Promise Academies, which are internal turnaround schools, for the most part the gains were more modest.

The biggest gains for a Promise Academy were at Dunbar Elementary, where proficiency rates for reading jumped 17 points to 37 and math rates jumped 20 points to 45.

There were gains at the two Promise Academy high schools, University City and Vaux. But the starting points were very low.

Vaux went from 12 to 15 percent proficient in reading and 9 to 10 percent proficient in math. University City went from 7 to 14 percent proficient in reading and 3 to 10 percent in math.

This will be the first year that charter organizations will be trying to turn around existing high schools. Mastery is now managing Gratz, Olney is under ASPIRA of Pennsylvania, and Audenried is now operated by Universal Companies.

Last year, while operating under the District, 27 percent of Audenried students were proficient in reading and 20 percent in math. This is relatively high for neighborhood schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, but not as good as some teachers and students had predicted as they fought to prevent the school, which started over in a new building in 2008, from becoming a charter.

District offices were closed today in observance of Rosh Hashanah so there was no official comment on the results.

The state’s website for viewing individual schools’ AYP results and comparative test score data has been updated to include the 2011 results, with more detailed individual school report cards to be added in November.