Test Scores Drop for Philly Schools

PSSA results demonstrate losses for the School District of Philadelphia.

The School District of Philadelphia posted a decline in nearly all categories for the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) testing results, according to data released by the school district.

Across the board, in all grades, a drop occurred in advanced or proficient scores in reading and math.

According to a news release: "When looking at all grades combined, math scores dropped 8.7 percentage points over last year, from 57.8 percent to 49.1 percent, and reading scores dropped 7.1 percentage points, from 51.6 percent to 44.5 percent. Student performance declined in every grade level and for every subgroup in reading and math."

Only a few days into his new job, Superintendent William Hite had to deal with the poor scores.

"These results are clearly disappointing—and they simply remind us of the work we have ahead in developing a strong system of schools in Philadelphia and in supporting our students' learning,” Hite said. “We must continue to focus on the basics that will allow our students to succeed in the classroom and that is to ensure the best possible teaching and learning environments, supporting our teachers and principals, and empowering our parents."

In nearly every grade tested, the scores dropped in advanced or proficient:

Grade Reading 2012  Math 2012 Reading 2011 Math 2011 3 44.7 49.1 57.8 66.3 4 41.9 54.8 51.3 67.1 5 34.7 44.3 45.7 56 6 41.8 51.7 45.4 60.9 7 54.6 50.6 58 55.2 8 56.4 51.2 61.6 56.4 11 42 36.4 43.9 37.5

The school district said it would analyze the drop and share information related to individual schools, as some may have increased despite the district-wide decline.

Earlier this year, the school district announced investigations for cheating into 40 schools, in addition to 11 district and two charter schools that the state also investigated.

Superintendent Hite addressed the cheating concerns.

“The allegations of cheating that have clouded the PSSA test results are disturbing. Adult cheating is a great disservice to our students. It will not be tolerated and there is no room in our District for any adult involved in cheating.  We plan to take aggressive action against any individual found to have committed this type of injustice on our students.”

More detailed test data will come out in the following weeks.

Al September 25, 2012 at 05:08 AM
There are several questions. First, what caused the drop in scores? Second: Without understanding how the PSSA is scored, there's no way to know what the actual score numbers mean. What's the highest possible? Are the numbers percentiles? What number is considered "Excellent"?. What number is considered "Good"? Do the numbers translate into letter grades like A, B, C, etc.?
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