District test scores improve, but lag in proficiency

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

The School District of Philadelphia released results last week from the 2018 PSSA and Keystone exams. Although there were improvements in every subject, the District still struggles to bring students up to proficiency.

District officials are celebrating the incremental victories.

“I congratulate our students, teachers, and principals on their continued academic progress,” said Superintendent William Hite.

“These results clearly show the hard work, dedication, and determination of everyone is making a difference.”

Between 2017 and 2018, the District overall showed small increases on the PSSAs in the number of proficient and advanced students in math and English language arts, but science showed the biggest improvement, moving from 32 to 35 percent. These tests are given from 3rd through 8th grade.

The Keystone exam results showed noticeable improvements in all subjects. Proficient and advanced percentages increased by four points in biology and algebra, and by five in literature. The Keystones are for high school students and given by the 11th grade.

However, Philadelphia continues to lag behind the state as a whole in proficiency rates. While 65 percent of students statewide are proficient and advanced in science, just 35 percent of city students are. In English language arts, the comparable figures are 61 percent and 35 percent, and for math, 41 percent and 20 percent.

The District highlighted Horatio B. Hackett Elementary School for showing exceptional increases in the number of proficient and advanced students in English language arts and science.

Last year, 39 percent of students tested at the school were above basic in English. This year, that number jumped to 52 percent. For science, the number grew from 51 to 63 percent.

“We are thrilled that the dedication of the entire school community is paying off and that our students are making such significant improvements in early literacy and science,” said Hackett principal Todd Kimmel in a statement.

Click here to find the PSSA and Keystone scores by school.