Wednesday, October 24, 2012
School board members concerned about 'flat line' in Easton High School PSSA results.
Students in the Easton Area School District did better than the statewide average on the PSSA tests in the 2011-2012 school year. But at Easton Area High School, scores continued to be lower than at the other schools in the district, a notion that concerned school board members during a discussion of PSSA results Tuesday night. "It remains extremely troubling to me. If you look at the trend, it’s a flat line over many, many years," said board member Robert Moskaitis. "What is happening to change that?" He argued that one of the reasons residents of Riegelsville lobbied to move out of the Easton Area School District was due to PSSA scores. Moskatis noted that the nearby Wilson Area School District seemed to perform much better on its PSSAs…
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
In math and reading tests, girls in the Easton Area School District did better than boys.
For the second year in a row, girls in the Easton Area School District performed better than boys on the PSSAs. Students in grades three through eight, as well as high school juniors, take the test -- known as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments -- each spring. A review of records released last week found that 82.4 percent of the 2,241 female students who took the math test scored in the "advanced" or "proficient" categories, compared with 81.2 percent of the 2,302 male students. The contrast in reading test results were a little more stark: 78.5 percent of female students reached the advanced/proficient category, compared to 69.1 percent of male students. (Test results fall into four categories: advanced, proficient, basic and …
Monday, September 24, 2012
State test scores show Easton students improving math skills, but falling short on reading.
Easton students performed better than the statewide average on the PSSA tests in the 2011-2012 school year, according to test results released last week. However, the district still missed a key state benchmark last year, with only four of its schools making AYP, or adequate yearly progress, the minimum level of improvement schools need to reach. Here's how students performed statewide, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education: Students in Easton did better in every category: Last year, students in Easton scored 80.7 in math, and slightly lower -- 73.2 percent -- in reading. However, Easton students fell below the state's 2011/2012 Adequate Yearly Progress target for reading, which was to have 81 percent of students …
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Public schools supporter says educators need to do a better job of making their case to an aging taxpaying public.
It was early in Jamie Vollmer’s transformation from education critic to public schools advocate that a superintendent invited him to spend a day in her district. She had Vollmer, then a business executive, do bus duty and work as an aide to a third-grade teacher in the morning. After a 20-minute lunch break, the superintendent took off the kid gloves. “She put me in an eighth-grade classroom on a warm afternoon,” Vollmer recalls. “I’ve since referred to that as the nuclear option.” Trying to engage, control and teach a class of adolescents gave him a new respect for what teachers face every day. “Many of these kids are victims of a culture that has assaulted their physiology [from medications they take], fractured their attention span and…
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Should Easton require students to take more than four years of high school science?
When Easton Area High School's class of 2012 graduates this week, some of its students will have taken three years of science, while others will have four. That's because three years is all that's required by the school (the fourth year is an elective course). But now some school board members are wondering whether four years should be the standard as the district looks for ways to improve its science test scores. Tell us what you think: Should students be required to take four years of science? What if that meant increasing staff? Take our poll, and tell us in the comments.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Allentown School District may combine social studies with English to make more time for math. Is that a good idea?
On a recent 13-minute drive home from baseball practice, my 15-year-old explained to me how World War I started. Mind you, I knew the bit about Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand being assassinated by a Bosnian Serb but I couldn’t have told you why other countries started joining in like it was a brawl at an NHL game. For most of us, information has a use-it-or-lose-it quality. If we’re not called on in daily life to remember who was president during the Spanish-American War, it might slip our minds. What stays are concepts. How America’s founders enshrined freedom of speech, religion and the press in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution to protect minorities from the tyranny of the majority. That America came to England’s aid to …
Monday, March 12, 2012
Easton School District grades 3 through 8 and 11 start the PSSAs this week.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Over the next two weeks, Easton School District students in grades 3 through 8 plus 11 will be sweating through the PSSA tests. Last year, the girls outperformed the boys in both math and reading. So the boys have some work to earn the bragging rights back. In math, in 2011, of 4,407 students tested, 80.7 percent were considered advanced or proficient compared with state averages showing 77.1 percent proficient or advanced in the subject, according to an analysis of the test scores. For reading, while 73.5 percent of the students in the state were found to be proficient or advanced, 73.2 percent of the 4,415 EASD students tested were deemed advanced or proficient, just shy of the state mark. On Friday, schools across the district help …
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Pennsylvania is seeking to revamp its teacher evaluation system. Should an educator’s job be tied to student test scores?
I sometimes think that good teaching is a bit like Potter Stewart’s description of hard-core pornography. The late Supreme Court justice said he wasn’t sure he could define it but he knew it when he saw it. Most of us could probably describe a great teacher we had with adjectives that are hard to quantify: creative, motivating, innovative, passionate, tough but fair, funny, dedicated and interesting. But how do you gauge those qualities in an evaluation system for teachers? Pennsylvania is moving toward replacing its antiquated system that deems teachers either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Under the state’s proposal, teachers would be rated distinguished, proficient, needs improvement or failing. State House Bill 1980, introduced by …
Thursday, October 6, 2011
More Valley schools miss the mark under No Child Left Behind.
To say I was a weak math student is a little like saying Hitler was a bad guy. Math teachers worked with me after class, my parents tutored me and I’d think I understood how to use the Point-Slope Formula to calculate something or other. Then I’d take a test and find out otherwise. I never flunked a class but that was only because back in the 70s my math teachers must have assured themselves I was never going to design bridges – at least none they would drive on – and they held their noses to pass me. Had I needed to earn a proficient rating in math to graduate, I’d currently be the oldest living high school senior. Yet, remarkably all my life I’ve found work that I could do without higher level math. This isn’t to brag about my ignorance…
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Easton Middle School gets its students psyched for next week's tests.
The idea of sitting down and taking a bunch of standardized tests is probably the last thing a group of middle school students are going to get excited about. But with the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests scheduled to begin next week, the Easton Area Middle School tried to get its students pumped up about the exams with a pep rally Friday. The PSSAs are given to students in grades 3-8 and to high school juniors to gauge their skills in math, reading and writing.