Education Department Prioritizes Schools for Support to Improve Students’ Educational Experiences

HARRISBURG – As part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to improve students’ educational experiences, the Department of Education (PDE) marked a milestone in Pennsylvania’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) State Plan by designating schools in need of more support.

“The Wolf administration recognizes that students are more than test scores and that many factors contribute to student success,” said Secretary of Education Pedro A. Rivera.

“The schools designated today will receive a variety of supports tailored to their unique needs. Ultimately, this extra support will create a more successful learning environment for students.”

Pennsylvania’s new school improvement strategy follows a three-district, 19-school pilot program implemented during the 2017-18 year that helped PDE field test improvement strategies in large, mid-sized and small districts.

Under the state’s ESSA plan, Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) schools are ones that had both academic and student success challenges over a two-year period. These schools face the greatest challenges and need the most help.

Schools are identified for CSI in two ways:

  • The school is among the lowest performing 5 percent of buildings statewide that receive federal Title 1 funds; or
  • The high school has an overall graduation rate of 67 percent or below.

Approximately 5 percent of Title 1 schools have been designated as CSI and will receive direct support from PDE. Teams will work with the schools to develop and implement improvement plans focusing on individual school needs.

This could mean, for example, developing more training for teachers or outlining a strategy to better coordinate initiatives with community groups.

An additional 6 percent of all public schools have been prioritized for Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI), based on the performance of individual student groups, including economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, students receiving special education services; and federally established race and ethnic populations.

Schools are prioritized as A-TSI when:

  • One or more individual student groups performs at or below the level of CSI schools; or
  • One or more individual student groups report a graduation rate of 67 percent or below.

A-TSI schools will also receive technical assistance from the state while developing and implementing a locally approved improvement plan.

Both CSI and A-TSI schools will enter four-year improvement cycles. The next cycle of CSI and A-TSI schools will be designated in fall 2021.

CSI and A-TSI determinations stem from the state’s new school accountability system that shifts from using test scores alone to now include five more indicators: academic growth, high school graduation rate, progress in moving English learners to proficiency, regular attendance and engagement in postsecondary readiness plans.

These indicators, including performance at the student group level, were made available publicly earlier this year with the launch of the Future Ready PA Index.

“Our procedures for identifying schools for enhanced supports builds on the foundation we’ve set with the Future Ready PA Index,” added Rivera.

“We are building a broader, fairer, and more meaningful portrait of school and student progress, and we’re honoring our state’s equity commitments by helping to ensure that every student in the commonwealth gets the education he or she needs to be successful.”

CSI and A-TSI designations are available on PDE’s Web site.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at www.education.?pa.gov? or follow PDE on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

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