Tucked into a massive data report on Pennsylvania schools released Friday is some promising news for the York City School District.
Superintendent Eric Holmes told the district's school board Monday that students at William Penn Senior High School performed better than expected on PSSA and Keystone exams during the 2012-13 school year.
Reading scores, especially, "drastically" improved, Holmes said.
"It's a good thing because it's showing that progress is being made at William Penn Senior High School," he said.
Having been granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind standards, Pennsylvania is measuring its schools' academic performance differently this year.
Scores: Known as school performance profiles, the new system awards a score from 0 to 100 to each school building in Pennsylvania based on state test scores and other data, such as graduation rate and attendance.
State education officials said a score above 70 was considered satisfactory -- a goal achieved by none of York City's six K-8 schools. With a score of 61.2, Davis K-8 performed the best.
As he did last week, Holmes acknowledged the need to improve.
"These scores have to get better," he said.
The York City School District, which is struggling both financially and academically, has already embarked on a state-mandated recovery plan. One of the plan's goals is to double the percentage of students who score advanced or proficient in reading and math tests during the next five years.
The data released last week shows the district's high school is closer to that goal than district officials had anticipated, Holmes said.
Because of a glitch in the reporting system, scores for many of the state's high schools -- including William Penn -- remain incomplete online.
William Penn: However, some of the school's standardized test results, one component of the overall scores, are there.
According to the report, about 49 percent of William Penn students achieved advanced or proficient reading scores.
In math, nearly 37 percent of the school's students earned advanced or proficient scores.
Last year, about 30 percent of students scored proficient or better in math and 32.5 percent in reading.
Title I schools across the state were also given federal accountability designations on the school performance profiles.
All of the schools in York City are Title I schools, which are designated based on the high number of low-income students in the buildings.
Grants: William Penn and McKinley K-8 were both listed as priority schools, which identifies the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I schools in the state and/or schools that receive School Improvement Grant funds. McKinley and the high school both those funds.
The designations are derived from aggregate math and reading scores on the PSSA tests or algebra and literature scores on the Keystone exams.
Jackson K-8, Goode K-8 and Ferguson K-8 were listed as focus schools, meaning they are in the lowest-performing 10 percent of Title I schools in the state.
Devers K-8 and Davis K-8 -- which scored the highest among the district's buildings -- did not receive a designation.
Helpers: Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said schools listed as "priority" or "focus" will be assigned academic recovery liaisons to help instill best educational practices.
The academic recovery liaisons are approved as part of Pennsylvania's waiver for the No Child Left Behind standards. Eller said the liaisons could start working with schools by the end of the school year.
Eller said in cases where there is a recovery plan in place, such as the York City School District, the liaisons will complement the efforts of the recovery personnel already in place.
"These two will dovetail each other," Eller said.
Eller said schools that did not perform well might also be paired with other nearby schools with better scores to adopt education practices that improve scores.
-- Reach Erin James at email@example.com.