Individual school's Pennsylvania System of School Assessment exam scores were released Sept. 29, and for the second year in a row, schools were subjected to the more rigorous common-core standards that were enacted during the May 2015 tests.

Schools across the county varied on whether their students' scores improved or declined. Dover Area School District did not see major changes between its scores on the 2015 tests and the 2016 tests, but did see some increase in scores for ELA and math. District averages were found by adding information from all schools in the district.

Dover Superintendent Ken Cherry said he was happy to see that the district had increased its PSSA scores.

"I think it's a good thing to look at your PSSA scores and see some growth," Cherry said. "Overall I'm happy with the trajectory that the district is going in."

On both the ELA and math PSSA exams, the school district did see an increase in the number of students who scored as advanced on the exam. On the ELA exam, 17.8 percent of students were considered advanced in 2016 compared with 15.2 percent in 2015. In 2016, 43.8 percent of students scored as proficient on the ELA exam for the Dover School District, a slight decrease from 44 percent in 2015.

There was a slight increase in 2016 in the number of students who scored as basic on the ELA exam, with 30.3 percent in 2016 compared to 32.7 percent of students achieving the same score in 2015. Finally, 8.2 percent of students district-wide scored as below basic, while 8.0 percent achieved that score the previous year.

For math, 22.9 percent of students scored as advanced in 2016 compared with 18.1 percent in 2015. Slightly fewer students scored as proficient on the math exam in 2016, at 28 percent, compared with 2015, when 31.3 percent of students were considered proficient. Another decrease came for students who scored as basic on the exam: 28.4 percent in 2016 compared with 30.6 percent in 2015. Finally, 20.7 percent of students in the district were considered below basic in math in 2016 compared with 20.1 percent in 2015.

Schools within the district varied on how they did individually on the two exams. For example, Leib Elementary School had an increase in the number of students scoring as advanced on the ELA and math PSSA exams in 2016 compared with 2015, but the school also saw more students score below basic than the previous year.

In 2016, 15.6 percent of students at Leib Elementary School scored advanced on the ELA exam, while 10.8 percent of students achieved that score in 2015. However, 12.6 percent of students scored below basic on the same exam compared with 9.8 percent in 2015. For math, 26.2 percent of students at Leib Elementary were considered advanced, an increase from the 18.7 percent from 2015. There was also a slight increase in the number of students who scored below basic, from 16.3 percent in 2015 to 17.9 percent in 2016.

Cherry said the district will be encouraging its staff to work how they feel is best with the kids in their classroom, particularly with math, because the district hasn't seen as big a jump in scores on the math PSSA exams compared to the ELA exams.

Over the past 24 months, Cherry said, the district has tried to encourage more collaboration among teachers while also making sure the teachers have the correct resources they need to accommodate the recently implemented common core standards.

"That’s been a challenge," Cherry said of the new standards. "I think many districts are still trying to unpack those standards and learn them. We’re still adjusting our curriculum and trying to enhance teacher practices to work with what was put out."

Information for each of the schools at each grade level and for each subject can be found on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website. Information on scores from previous school years can be found there as well.

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