Keystone Achievement Awards Recognize PA Schools for Academic Achievement

HARRISBURG – More than 1,900 Pennsylvania schools are being honored with Keystone Achievement Awards for showing sustained academic achievement over the past two school years, including scores of schools whose students are overcoming academic hurdles, announced Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak.

“These awards reinforce the hard work our schools are executing and the success they are achieving,” Zahorchak said.

“Schools are overcoming obstacles by implementing quality instruction, adopting research proven strategies and aligning their curriculum to academic standards.”

Keystone Achievement Awards are given to public schools that achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years. AYP is determined, in part, by a school’s performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, the standardized test given annually to students in grades 3-8 and 11.

Each school that earns a Keystone Achievement Award receives a large, keystone-shaped placard that can be displayed at the school.

“A Keystone Achievement Award represents the hard work and dedication of students, teachers and administrators,” Zahorchak said. “Recipients of these awards should proudly display their placards as evidence of academic achievement and a commitment to excellence.”

Zahorchak said earning this year’s award is impressive considering the targets for achieving AYP increased in 2008. At least 63 percent of a school’s students had to perform at grade level in reading and 56 percent had to be at grade level in math, up from the 2007 targets of 54 percent for reading and 45 percent for math.

“Our schools are continuing to meet higher expectations as the bar continues to rise,” the secretary said, but he noted two areas where academic performance tends to lag: under-funded school districts and high schools.

However, the attention being paid to these areas is beginning to pay off. Out of the 78 schools that received this prestigious award for the very first time, more than half are secondary schools.

Pennsylvania has working to improve student achievement by:

• Enacting a new education funding formula that helps districts achieve the level of resources needed to educate students – a level based on the findings of the General Assembly’s Costing Out Report – and directs dollars into proven programs that reap results for students.
• Pursuing statewide graduation requirements that would provide districts with a menu of ways for students to show they are ready for post-high school challenges.
• Creating a new, voluntary model curriculum to bolster high school achievement, and providing tools to help identify students who are struggling.

Since 2004, the Department of Education has partnered with the Pennsylvania Association of Federal Program Coordinators to present the Keystone Achievement Awards as a public recognition of the quality work and commitment shown by students and educators. Of the 1,939 schools receiving Keystone Achievements Awards this year:

• Seventy-seven are receiving a Keystone Achievement Award for the first time ever, including 39 schools that had never before achieved AYP or are new, and 38 that previously had achieved AYP, but not for two consecutive years.
• 66 schools are receiving their second Keystone Achievement Award.
• 202 are receiving their third Keystone Achievement Award.
• 179 schools are receiving their fourth Keystone Achievement Award, having made AYP for the fifth consecutive year.
• 325 schools reached the AYP target for the sixth consecutive year and will receive their fifth award.
• 1,089 schools are receiving their sixth Keystone Achievement Award, meaning they have made AYP every year since 2002-03.
• In all, 472 school districts, representing 94 percent of Pennsylvania’s districts, are receiving at least one Keystone Achievement Award this year.

For a complete list of award winners, more information on the Keystone Achievement Awards and details about Pennsylvania’s other education initiatives, visit here.

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