Rendell: PA Students Post Record in Reading and Math Scores

HARRISBURG – Eighty-two percent of Pennsylvania schools met the required academic goals for the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law for 2010, Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced, with record numbers of students performing at grade level in reading and math on the state’s PSSA tests.

Overall, three quarters of Pennsylvania students are now achieving at grade level, and the smallest percentage of students ever, scored at the lowest level since the inception of the PSSAs.

“The Center for Education Policy told us last year that Pennsylvania was the only state in the nation to make academic gains across the board from 2002 through 2008,” said Rendell. “These terrific numbers show that we are continuing that trend and more. Student achievement has increased in every subject, at all tested grade levels and for all ethnic, racial and economic subgroups of students since 2002 — the eighth straight year of student performance gains. I congratulate our teachers, the entire education community, the General Assembly, and, especially, our students for these outstanding achievements.”

The governor also noted that Pennsylvania schools are succeeding at decreasing the number of students who are years behind grade level; the number of students performing at the lowest level has been cut in half since 2002. He pointed out that as NCLB achievement targets increase next year, having more students closer to grade level will make it easier for schools to reach those higher targets.  

This year’s PSSA scores also show that Pennsylvania schools are increasing the number of students who are performing at the highest levels. Since 2003, nearly 300,000 additional students are performing at advanced levels. More students performing beyond grade level means more students can focus on accelerated course work and graduate well prepared for college and the workplace.

The gains in academic achievement demonstrated by the PSSA scores for 2010 are confirmed by Pennsylvania’s recent scores on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Called the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP is the only current national assessment of student performance.  NAEP’s most recent scores, reported last spring, demonstrated that the rate of improvement of Pennsylvania students was significantly better than the national average:

• In 2003, eight states outperformed Pennsylvania in fourth-grade math; in 2009 Pennsylvania was among the top four performers in the nation.

• In 2003, 16 states showed better results than Pennsylvania in eighth-grade math; by this year, there are only seven that are doing better than Pennsylvania.

• In 2003, 14 states had better results than Pennsylvania in fourth-grade reading; this year, Pennsylvania is among the top six. 

• In 2003, 11 states beat Pennsylvania for top ranking in eighth-grade reading; today Pennsylvania has the best scores in the nation.

Joining the Governor for today’s announcement were acting Secretary of Education Tom Gluck and representatives from three school districts whose students have posted particularly strong percentage gains in achievement: Superintendent Kendra Trail from Southern Fulton School District in Fulton County; Superintendent Roseann Brutico from Old Forge School District in Lackawanna County; and Elementary School Principal Delores Bliss and High School Principal Maynard Harvey from the Moniteau School District in Butler County.

• Southern Fulton School District doubled the number of students on grade level in math from 2003 to 2010 while increasing the number of students performing beyond grade level by over 400 percent. The district excelled in reading, as well, with a 266 percent increase in students scoring advanced and a more than 65 percent reduction in the number of most-struggling students in reading.

• Old Forge School District has, since 2003, increased the number of students at grade level in math by 143 percent, from 31 percent to 76 percent. In reading, the number of students at grade level has improved by 50 percent, from 48 percent to 72 percent. 

• Moniteau School District has also made great progress in both math and reading. In math, the district doubled the percentage of students on grade level or above, from 40 percent to 82 percent. In reading, the increase was from 50 percent to 80 percent. Moniteau has also reduced by 78 percent the percentage of students in Below Basic in math and reading.

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