Mountain View tackles low AYP report

BY TOM FONTANA

Correspondent

Mountain View School District plans an aggressive attack directed at low scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests.

The school failed to meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) for 2011-12, and Mountain View earned the lowest scores in Susquehanna County at the high school level based on PSSA scores.

“Our performance side is not good,” Mountain View’s curriculum director Karen Voigt told the board at its Monday meeting. “We did not make one performance target.”

Elementary school averages in math and reading met state goals, but the junior/senior high school did not.

“The grade 3 to 5 span saved us,” Voigt said, “but they were too close for comfort, so we’ll be looking at that.”

In math, the elementary average was 78.4 percent, just slipping past the 78 percent performance goal.  The reading score of 73.6 percent was within reach of the state’s 81 percent goal.

On the junior/senior high school level, Voigt stated that “this year’s math scores were very disappointing” for the eleventh grade, which lowered the school’s overall average.

In math, the state proficiency average was 60 percent for eleventh grade; Mountain View’s score was 39.3 percent.  The state average for proficiency in reading was 67.8 percent; Mountain View peaked at 51.7 percent.

As a result, the district met only eight of the 14 state target goals, putting the junior/senior high school in the “School Improvement II” category.  The school was in the “School Improvement I” category for 2010-11.

Voigt pointed out that average scores seem to fluctuate from 3rd to eleventh grade each year statewide, dropping to the lowest level in eleventh grade.

“Our high school counselors say that this year seniors at the top of their class are only at a 95 percent grade point average,” Voigt said.  “That’s low for twelfth grade.”

She said after a teacher in-service day on Friday, Oct. 5, “teachers are very enthusiastic about changing how they’re teaching.”

Voight said part of the solution to bringing up grades will be for teachers to develop the “resilience and stamina” of students.  “Students need to go beyond multiple choice answers on tests,” she explained, “and spend more time trying to justify and understand their answers.  All teachers in all courses will be encouraged to teach reading and writing, not just in English classes.”

Superintendent Francine Shea recommended that “teachers need to have more time to work together” to coordinate strategies to improve academic performance.

Voigt said the school’s PSSA report will be posted on the district website.

In other business, Stephen Kilmer was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board for Harford/Lenox Twp., completing the remaining term until the 2013 elections.  Kilmer was the only person who applied and is the owner of a family quarry business.

Also, high school principal Robert Presley attended the meeting, and requested the hiring of a junior varsity baseball coach in addition to a varsity coach.

“The two teams run on different schedules,” he told the board, “so with only one coach, when the varsity has a game, the junior varsity loses practice time because the coach is with the varsity, and vice versa.  So the teams lose the equivalent of three weeks of practice. When are they supposed to develop the players when they’re losing that much practice time?”

He said this school year, there is the potential of about 30 students signing up for baseball, enough to provide the district with varsity and junior varsity teams.  He explained that for other sports, such as soccer and basketball, the varsity and junior varsity schedules coincide, so that the junior varsity team plays followed by the varsity on the same day.

He also suggested the importance of having an assistant coach who can tend to students who are injured and need to be taken to the hospital in case parents are not at the game.  “Right now, with only one coach” he said, “if a player is injured in the game and there is no parent there, what’s the coach supposed to do?  Leave the game, or make the injured player wait until the game is over to take them to the hospital?”

Board president Todd Adams pointed out that in past years when there were two coaches, the junior varsity team was required to attend varsity games, so practices were lost in that case as well.

The board suggested that Presley compile a breakdown of coaching salaries, and present them at a future board meeting before a junior varsity coach position could be considered