The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 20, 2012

3 Shikellamy schools fail to meet PSSA requirements

SUNBURY — The superintendent of the Shikellamy School District said three of the six schools have not met requirements of the Pennsylvania Adequate Yearly Progress assessment test, and that’s a problem.

A big one.

However, Pat Kelley is already taking action.

Shikellamy High School now has not meet AYP requirements for the second consecutive year and is under state corrective action, he said. The district will have to submit a plan to the state Department of Education on how the problem will be fixed.

The Chief Shikellamy Elementary School and the Shikellamy Middle School also did not meet AYP requirements and have been put on warning, but the state also will require corrective plans for them.

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment measures how well students have achieved in reading, mathematics, science and writing according to the state’s academic standards. According to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, students must be 100 percent proficient in reading and math by 2014. The federal act also requires states to determine annually whether schools and districts meet AYP standards.

Kelley released the district’s results for 2011-12 on Thursday night.

“We didn’t do as well as we would have liked,” he said. “I am already working on this, and I am speaking with teachers and administrators, and we are getting a plan together.”

State officials will now monitor the high school, but Kelley said he isn’t worried about that because he will be monitoring the situation himself.

“We will do everything we can to fix this,” the new superintendent said. “Whatever it takes, we will do.”

Kelley, who recently was hired as the district’s top administrator, inherited a slew of nagging problems, including a 2010 incident where a Shikellamy math teacher allegedly gave some 11th-graders test questions before they took the assessment exam.

The district reported the alleged violation almost 29 months ago, on April 27, 2010. Written notification dated April 29, 2010, followed.

The alleged misconduct happened the same year that the district’s math scores for 11th-graders jumped by 31.2 percentage points. Math scores fell back 23.6 percent in 2011.

Documents obtained by The Daily Item last year show that a student reported the improper test preparations to a teacher, who notified administrators. Then-Principal Terry Roden completed an investigation, which he described in a report to former district superintendent and current school director James Hartman. That probe determined the teacher had copied questions from a prior year’s state test for a study guide, and five of those questions, including an open-ended question, which is worth more points than the multiple-choice questions that make up the majority of the exam, appeared on the 2010 test.

State officials did not return phone calls on Thursday regarding where the investigation stands.

Kelley said he has no information about the alleged incident, and that he is more concerned with getting test scores back up.

“We need to concentrate on fixing the problem,” he said. “All I know is what is in front of me right now, and we need to understand how important these tests are. We have bright kids, and we have the ability to do well on these tests.”

Kelley said he was not surprised to learn the three schools failed.

“The proficiency rate is increasing over the next three years,” he said. “It is about 10 percent a year, so I am not surprised with this. We just need to work on it, and we need to find a solution.”

Kelley said the closing of the C.W. Rice school and Sunbury Middle School last year had no bearing on test scores.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with this,” he said. “I really do believe the proficiency rate has everything to do with this.”

Kelley will be announcing the scores at the Sept. 27 school board meeting.


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