New Castle News

October 11, 2012

New Castle to meet, detail AYP goals

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The New Castle Area school superintendent is calling a meeting of school board members and educators to detail AYP goals.

Teachers and other curriculum professionals also will be included in the session, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Adequate Yearly Progress is a target that the district missed this year through testing its students in reading and math. The state raised the proficiency bar in 2012 from 67 to 78 percent in math and 72 to 81 percent in reading, meaning that percentage of students tested must reach proficient or advanced levels.

Superintendent George Gabriel claims those increases caused many schools statewide to miss the AYP target this year.

Last year, 18 districts statewide were in the warning category. This year there are 166, he said.

“But that’s no excuse,” he told the board at its public work session Tuesday.

Stan Magusiak, assistant to the superintendent, said the state’s bar will be raised again for 2013, requiring an even higher percentage of students to be proficient or advanced in both subjects, and by 2014, all districts must meet those marks with 100 percent of their students.

 That is, unless the No Child Left Behind Act changes before then, Gabriel said.

In presenting the AYP numbers for individual schools in the district, Gabriel told the board, “The bright news here is that we still have solid scores in our primary centers (in math). What’s disheartening is that only 52 percent were proficient or advanced in the junior/senior high school.

“I’d like to say this is a fluke this year, but I don’t know. I want to bring people in to give you a glimpse of what our teachers do on a daily basis. We’re not making excuses for this. We’re going to drive it into our kids that they have to score better than this.” “I’m so against this business,” said board Mary Ann Tofel, who is a teacher herself, referring to the PSSA system of judging school districts.

Magusiak pointed out that it is an unfunded mandate.

Rather, there have been funding cuts that have affected education, Gabriel said.

He explained that the district has had to increase class sizes and the district has had to reduce its support staff.

“All the tutors are gone,” he said, “and that’s strong in terms of supporting a child. The tutors ran with it when we told them what needs work. We’re working with a skeleton crew right now.”