The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 10, 2009

Education: Five Valley schools miss mark

Shikellamy High School has been flagged four consecutive years for failing to hit state targets on standardized tests, and if the pattern repeats one more time, the state would have the authority to take over operation of the district, a Pennsylvania Department of Education spokeswoman said.

“Within the state law, there is the possibility that governance changes could be ordered,” Leah Harris, the education spokeswoman, said Friday.

“It’s rare,” but it has happened, usually because school districts were faced with both academic and financial crises.

Both the Harrisburg and Philadelphia school districts are operated by the cities’ governments. The Duquesne School District in western Pennsylvania is run by the state.

Five miss state goals

Shikellamy High School, Sunbury, is one of five schools in four Valley districts that missed state goals on standardized tests last year, administrators said.

The Selinsgrove Area Middle School, Milton middle and high schools and Midd-West High School also failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals established under Pennsylvania’s No Child Left Behind plan. The results are not scheduled to be released to the public until later this month, but schools have been notified of how they did.

Midd-West Superintendent Wesley Knapp pointed to the unsatisfactory test results at Midd-West High School last week, when he suggested that students should not be allowed to take field trips unless they are explicitly educational. Administrators in other districts said the standardized testing is pushing schools to cut similar questionable uses of student instructional time.

No Child Left Behind was implemented in 2003. It was designed to hold schools accountable and empower parents in closing the achievement gap in the nation’s schools. Critics say it’s a “one-size-fits-all” approach that overemphasizes testing and doesn’t provide enough money to help schools achieve success.

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