Carolyn Dumaresq
Carolyn Dumaresq (Submitted Photo)

A new website to show schools' proficiency will be launched at the end of September, using test data from students' PSSA and Keystone exam scores.

In a news briefing Wednesday, Carolyn Dumaresq presented a sample of the new website, which will go live on Monday, Sept. 30. Dumaresq is the acting secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The school profiles will be available to the public, and will include data from every public school in the state. Each school building will be given a rating on a 100-point scale. Schools that score a 70 or higher will be considered satisfactory.

The testing formats will not change for students, but the data will be used to report the percentage of students who are proficient in each school.

Tim Eller, spokesman for the department, said the testing in place will not change. Students in grades three through eight will still take the PSSAs. High school students will continue to take Keystone exams, which are assessed at the end of a course.

Students in 11th grade no longer take the PSSA tests. Dumaresq said the Keystone exams are more difficult, and schools may see a drop in proficiency this year because of that change.

Unlike other years, when the department reported the Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, the department will now start to calculate data that shows if schools are closing the achievement gap.

The AYP will not be reported because Pennsylvania received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education that releases the state from the No Child Left Behind Laws.

Closing the gap: In its place, the achievement gap is mandated by the federal government to show if schools are making progress. That progress - or lack of it - will be a portion of the overall building score.

Dumaresq supplied the following example of how the achievement gap is calculated: If a school shows 40 percent proficiency, there is a 60 percent difference between that and full proficiency at 100 percent.

Schools need to make up half of that difference over the course of six years. In the example, the school would need to improve by 30 percent proficiency in six years, for a total proficiency at 70 percent.

The improvement is cumulative, meaning schools can improve at varied percentages over those six years as long as they reach the goal.

The website will also include self-reported data from school districts regarding graduation rates, promotion rates and attendance. Those factors will be a part of the school's overall rating, listed on each school's page.

The schools will not be reported by district, but rather by individual school building.

The website will be separate from the education department, and will be found at www.paschoolperformance.org.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Nikelle Snader can also be reached at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.

Grading Rubric

Several factors will go into the new scores that school buildings will receive this year from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Here is a breakdown of how those scores will be weighted:

1. 50 percent of the total score will be calculated from three main areas:

a. Indicators of academic achievement (Examples include PSSA/Keystone performance, grade three reading proficiency and SAT/ACT college readiness benchmarks.)

b. Indicators of closing the achievement gap for all students in the school building.

c. Indicators of closing the achievement gap for student groups who historically do not perform well on tests, such as students in special education classes.

2. 40 percent of the total score will be calculated from student progress in math, reading, science and writing.

3. 10 percent includes factors that contribute to student achievement, such as the graduation rate, promotion rate and attendance rate.

Nikelle Snader can also be reached at nsnader@yorkdispatch.com.