The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 12, 2007

Valley schools all over the chart

Lewisburg ranks 39th; Shamokin, Shikellamy near bottom

By Karen Blackledge

Area schools ranked as high as 39th among the best performing of the state's 500 public school districts, according to research by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The Lewisburg district was 39th. Other local rankings were: Danville, 119; Southern Columbia, 135; Central Columbia, 146; Mifflinburg, 203; Bloomsburg, 207; Selinsgrove, 235; Warrior Run, 274; Midd-West, 305; Mount Carmel, 328; Milton, 356; Line Mountain, 391; Shamokin, 416; and Shikellamy, 434.

The Times used its formula to rank every district in the state based on three years of Pennsylvania System of Student Assessment test scores. This was part of the annual Guide to Western Pennsylvania Schools, which includes detailed information about more than 800 schools among the 106 school districts in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area.

Lewisburg Superintendent Mark DiRocco said Lewisburg students have done very well on the PSSA tests in the past.

"I am very pleased to hear that. That's a direct result of a lot of hard work by classroom teachers, building principals and instructional aides," he said.

"PSSA has been our focus the last five years. We have been making sure kids can read, write and do math. I think several districts in central Pennsylvania did very well in this ranking. That's a feather in the cap for a lot of public school educators in this part of the state especially considering the resources we have compared with our counterparts in suburban Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

"My hat's off to a lot of public districts. It shows this part of the state is doing a great job focusing on the education for our kids," he said.

Calls to the Shikellamy School District for comment were not returned.

Reached Monday, Danville Superintendent Steven Keifer said, "Our kids traditionally do pretty well in PSSA scores."

"It's nice to be in the top 20 to 25 percent," he said.

He added that their PSSA scores were actually down a bit last year.

"We expect to see higher scores this coming year. At the same time, PSSA only measures a couple things that we do. I believe at Danville we provide a well-rounded program for kids that includes much more than the PSSA measures," he said.

After PSSA scores were initially released last year, they showed that for the first time since the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act requirements, all Valley school districts met adequate yearly progress goals.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires that all groups of children reach proficiency in reading and math by the year 2014. Schools are assessed in three categories when determining adequate yearly progress. They are academic performance, participation, attendance and graduation.

Grades three through eight and 11, were tested in the spring of 2006 through the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment or PSSA. The 2005-06 results were released last August by the state Department of Education.

The Milton, Selinsgrove, Shikellamy and Warrior Run reached adequate yearly progress standards for the first time since the progress analysis began during the 2002-03 school year.

Lewisburg, Line Mountain and Midd-West were the lone Valley school districts to meet the standards each of four years.

n E-mail comments to kblackledge@thedailyitem.com.