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Individual schools' 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. The South Western York School District saw mixed results in both English language arts and math scores. Both subjects had an increase in the number of students who scored as advanced, but also an increase in the number of students who scored as below basic. Averages for the district were found using scores from each school within the district.

Assistant Superintendent Dan Hartman said the district was pleased with the growth the schools saw in many areas, but he also recognized there were some areas where they expected more than they actually saw.

"We're proud, but we're not satisfied," he said. "We're always looking for areas we can grow in."

On the ELA exam, 19.8 percent of students scored as advanced in the subject in 2016, up form 17.7 percent in 2015. There were 48.4 percent of students in the district who were considered proficient in the subject in 2016, down slightly from 51.7 percent in 2015.

There were slight increases in the number of students who scored as basic or below basic on the ELA exam in 2016. For example, 25.2 percent of students scored as basic in 2016, up form 24.6 percent in 2015. Another slight increase, from 6.1 percent in 2015 to 6.6 percent in 2016, was found for students who were considered below basic.

In math, there was a big jump from 16.4 percent in 2015 to 20.2 percent in 2016 for students considered advanced in the subject. In 2016, 31.9 percent of students scored as proficient in the subject, while 35.2 percent of students achieved that same score in 2015.

In 2016, 28.3 percent of students scored as basic on the math PSSA exam, down from 30.6 percent the year before. Finally, more students scored below basic in 2016, at 19.5 percent, than in 2015, when 17.8 percent of students achieved that same score.

Manheim Elementary saw some of the biggest improvements in scores in the South Western York County School District from 2015 to 2016. For ELA, 26.4 percent of students scored as advanced, up from 18 percent in 2015. The same percentage of students scored as below basic in both years, at 3.1 percent. However, fewer students scored as basic while more scored as proficient.

In math there was another big jump in scores for Manheim Elementary. In 2016, 25.6 percent of students were considered proficient in the subject, up from 14.1 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, there was a drop in the number of students who scored below basic, from 18 percent in 2015 to 10.1 percent in 2016.

For the upcoming PSSA exams, Hartman explained that the district is continuing to focus on customized learning for each child and aligning to the new, more rigorous core standards. He said the district is pouring over the data to find any school or district-wide trends that they can begin to address.

Hartman pointed out that while the data they receive through the PSSA scores and the School Performance Profile  score is very helpful, not receiving the information until September and October can make it challenging for more general changes in curriculum or instruction to be made before the PSSA exams are taken again in May.

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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