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District Does Not Anticipate State Takeover of High School

Members of the Centennial Education Committee did not find it likely that the state will take control of William Tennent if the school does not achieve Adequate Yearly Progress this year.

Centennial Education Committee member Mark Miller said Tuesday night that the state is unlikely to come in and take over operations of William Tennent if the high school does not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the 2012-2013 school year.

"What will probably happen instead," said Miller, "is that the state will take about 200 of the high school students and put them in a charter school and take that money out of our budget to pay for it."

The clarification came following a two and-a-half hour meeting with the Education Committee where Assistant Superintendant Joyce Mundy provided more detail and background information regarding the recently released results of Centennial's performance in the May 2012 PSSAs.

According to the results, the only schools that met the AYP targets were Longstreth and McDonald-Davis. In the cases of Stackpole, Willow Dale, Log College and Klinger, the general student bodies achieved the 78 performance goal in math and the 81 percent goal in reading. The schools fell short, however, in the performance of their subgroups.

According to the guidelines established by the No Child Left Behind Act, if a school has at least 40 students in a certain ethnicity or with a particular special need, such as an IEP, English as a second language or economically disadvantaged, a subgroup is automatically created. The subgroups must either meet the state requirements or qualify for Safe Harbor status, meaning the subgroup showed at least 10 percent improvement from the previous year.

Ironically, the consolidation of the six neighborhood schools into three larger schools has created the possibility of more subgroups in those schools. In the case of Willow Dale, for example, students with an IEP did not achieve the goals in math and reading, and Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged students did meet the target for reading.

It's the first warning status for the elementary schools, and only the third for the middle schools, separated by a few years of AYP achievement. The district has spent the summer modifying and implementing the curriculum to include the Common Core Standards that will be mandatory in the 2013-2014 school year.

"We're a year ahead of the game," said school board member Michael Hartline. "These are federal standards adopted by the state and they are very stringent."

Mundy said that the adoption of these standards has helped create more consistency across the district. She also highlighted the new scheduling at the elementary level, allowing at least 45 minutes per day of dedicated intervention time for students struggling with the material.

At the high school level, the general student body and several subgroups fell short of the performance goals in reading and math. The result has placed the school in the fourth year of corrective action. Since William Tennent receives Title 1 funding, the district must prepare a restructuring plan that must meet one of the following criteria:

  • reopen the school as a public charter school
  • replace all or most of the school staff, including the principal
  • enter into a contract to have an outside entity operate the school
  • arrange for the state to take over operation of the school
  • or any other major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement.

The high school has already developed an action plan based on missing the performance goals for the 2010-2011 AYP, which will be revised in November based on data from the first two months of its implementation. As presented by acting Principal Dr. Barbara Stevenson, the plan involves greater oversight of teachers and consistent use of effective instructinal practices throughout the high school.

As the pressure mounts for better achievement in AYP, Centennial also faces the challenge of using a new assessment for the high school, called the Keystone Exams. Taking the place of the eleventh grade PSSAs, the Keystone Exams act basically as final tests in three different courses: Algebra 1, Literature and Biology.

In May 2013, all eleventh graders will take the Keystone Exams in those subjects, but eventually the tests will be admnistered upon completion of the class. For example, if a ninth grader takes Algebra I, he will take the corresponding Keystone at the end of the course. That same student could then take Literature in tenth grade and Biology in eleventh, completing the Keystone Exam each year, as opposed to aking all of the PSSAs in one year. Centennial Superintendant Dr. Jenny Cressman said that students entering the eighth grade in 2012 will have to pass all three exams before they graduate.

"There will be multiple opportunities for students to retake the exams, including in their senior year," said Dr. Cressman.

Several parents attending Tuesday night's meeting searched for more answers about the district's performance in the PSSAs. Committee chair Jane Schrader Lynch promised that more details will be provided at the October 22 Education Committee meeting, when principals from each school will present full analyses of the data.

"If your questions are not fully answered then, someone will be in trouble," said Lynch. "We are trying to look at a problem and find a solution that will make a better future for Centennial students."

Pamela October 03, 2012 at 04:52 PM
"A year ahead of the game"? Are you serious?! The school has repeated FAILED AYP, the admin has done nothing, and they say we are ahead of the game? No you dropped the ball and allowed a fumble once again. I love how serious they take this situation. To think they actually placed all of these VP's into the elementary school.
Larry October 03, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I still think some people on the SB think it will fix itself! They just see little 2 minute movies made by the principals of last years photos and think it is so wonderful and should be broadcast to the world and it will all work out.Face up to the facts .Centennial needs more than SB BS.
James Peter October 03, 2012 at 05:43 PM
The state of education at Tennent is a total disgrace. Everyone from the Superindendent, Principal, teachers and even the students should be embarrassed. This is supposed to be a quality suburban high school not some poor inner city one. This would never happen in Council Rock or North Penn !!! Wake up PARENTS your children are not getting educated properly !!! Too many of you falsely ASSUME that since Centennial is a suburban school district is must be GOOD. Obviously it is SEVERLY LACKING !!
Tony Simek October 03, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Sounds the same as King Hussein trying to convince the American people that high unemployment was a good thing. Even his stooge said the middle class was buried the past 4 years.
SportyMom October 03, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Here's some info about AYP that you may find interesting. These numbers are for all students in each district for Centennial, Central Bucks & Council Rock. AYP goal for all schools will increase each year until it caps at 100%. Centennial: All Students-Math 79%, Reading 76% Council Rock: All Students- Math 87%, Reading 86% Central Bucks: All Students - Math 91%, Reading 90%. Now let's look at demographics. Realize ALL students must meet the goal regardless of ability, support, language barriers, etc. When I speak of ability I'm talking about children who have been recognized as having a learning disability (IEP) which may affect their ability to test at grade level, it doesn't matter, they are still tested at that grade level. AYP results for children with... IEP: Centennial Math 48% Read 42%, Council Rock M-57% R-60%, Central Bucks M-55% R-62% Non Speaking English: Cent M-45% R-29%, CR M-73% R-44%, CB M-63% R-46% Economically Disadvantage: Cent M-69% R-65%, CR M-75% R-73%, CB M-77% R-76%. Neither Central Bucks or Council Rock made AYP for these groups of children. Consider that Centennial student population is 49% for children with IEPs, English as second language and economic factors. Council Rock is 25% and Central Bucks is 20%. These factors affect outcome and the percentages are weighted against Centennial. Consider that when your saying we don't stand up to the surrounding districts. FYI all my children have scored advanced, so someone is teaching something.
SportyMom October 03, 2012 at 08:20 PM
You can find the stats here: Council Rock AYP report: http://paayp.emetric.net/Content/reportcards/RC12D122092353.PDF Central Bucks report: http://paayp.emetric.net/Content/reportcards/RC12D122092102.PDF Centennial report: http://paayp.emetric.net/Content/reportcards/RC12D122092002.PDF
Percy Brown October 04, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Reality Check: To the student it DOES NOT MATTER if they pass or not. They can place random bubbles on the sheet and fail and the following year walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. If I was a student why would I even waste my time taking the test if it doesn't mean anything to me. If it is going to demerit a teacher who was tough on me and made me do my work it is perfect revenge. Solution - No Prom, Sports, Diploma until you pass. Why do some students sitting in the same class with the same teacher pass the exam while another student in the same room with the same teacher fail?? Hint: its not the teacher
SportyMom October 04, 2012 at 03:09 AM
AYP was created for No Child Left Behind legislation: States are lining up to drop out of No Child Left Behind, the education initiative that was promoted as a historic achievement of the Bush administration. When President Barack Obama announced in August 2011 that he would sign an executive order allowing states to request waivers from mandatory participation in the program, at least 27 have signaled that they will ask to opt out, and most others are reviewing their options. President Barack Obama announced last month that he would sign an executive order allowing states to request waivers from mandatory participation in the program, at least 27 have signaled that they will ask to opt out, and most others are reviewing their options. In July of 2012 that number increased to 33. I'd say the states have spoken AYP is not the answer.
Pamela October 04, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Do you all remember taking the California tests in schools? AYP is not new. There has always been standardized testing. You all missed the point that WT has FAILED testing for 4 YEARS and your SB and ADMIN has DONE NOTHING. They plan on continuing to do NOTHING. That is the biggest joke. Did they at any point say what they have done over the last 4 years to improve? Yeah let's keep going down this road and see where the kids end up.
Daniella October 04, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Actually, now the number is 44 states that have either gotten a waiver from No Child Left Behind or are in process of getting one. So, we're one of only 6 states allowing this ineffectual law to stand. How about the fact that the goals that need to be met increase by 10 percentage points every year? Its ridiculous! And yes, Tennent has a higher IEP and economonically disadvantaged population than surrounding districts, it makes a huge difference.
Larry October 04, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Do you think since Obama has let states do away with NCLB means it is right.His education sec. was the superintendent of the Chicago school system for 6 years before going to DC. Just take a look at that system and tell me how it is working there. Just start to decide if the children look better in blue or khaky pants.
Pete Krenshaw October 04, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Is there a financial penalty for not participating in NCLB and obtaining a waiver? Does the state lose federal funding?
kidsfirst October 04, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Those districts may not have made AYP either, but look how much lower Centennial scores in the tests. Even for the general population, almost 10% lower in Math and 13% lower in Reading than the next lowest score posted. I think that is still an issue. Subgroups aside, just because AYP was made, doesn't mean there are not still issues in the education system as proven by the test scores. I certainly do not lay blame on all of the teachers. I think the blame is to be shared equally starting from the top (school board) all the way down to those parents who are not interested in their children's education. The school board has been making decision after decision a day late and a dollar short. Blue ribbon schools have been closed. A school that made AYP has been closed (Longstreth). Money is being sunk into mega schools and a $500K sound system on a school that is in its fourth year of failing????? That money may have been better served in other areas. I'm pretty sure hearing a concert in top audio will not improve the kids' chances of succeeding in life or being prepared for college. There are some excellent teachers and some that are not so great. That is an issue in every district and yes should be addressed. However, how about parents as well? Parents who do not have a vested interested in their children's success? Children need to be educated at home first.
kidsfirst October 04, 2012 at 08:31 PM
(cont'd) As stated on a post in another article, how can you send your child to school not even knowing the language and expect them to succeed? How can teachers be expected to keep the rest of the student body on task while also trying to teach children who do not even understood what is being said? Education needs to be continued at home and if parents do not have a vested interest in what their children are learning or do not care enough themselves to have the children prepared to start school, than how can a district succeed in AYP?
SportyMom October 05, 2012 at 01:03 AM
kidsfirst-the percentage for the general population includes the scores for IEP, ESL, and Eco Disadvantage. It is not a separate percentage. So CB at 20% IEP, ESL & ED if 8 kids score 100, 2 score 50 there grade is still 90%. Centennial with 49% IEP, ESL & ED 5 kids score 100, 5 kids score 50 our grade is 75%. This is a simplistic scenario but you can see how that clearly effects the overall score. There are so many factors that play into the success or failure of students. I just hate hearing people saying our schools and teachers are terrible, it just isn't true. I know WT students who took the SATs this spring and received a 2200 or higher. That places them in the 95% for all high school students in the United States. Did they teach themselves? The education is there for those who want it. Now, is there a problem? Yes. Do I know how to solve it? No. But screaming off with there heads, gets us nowhere. I think the AYP could be a useful tool but it is being used as a sledgehammer. In 2014 when all schools have to be at 95% or above it will catch up to the other schools in the state. PA should opt out.
kidsfirst October 05, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Yes, I understand what you are saying statistically and I also said the blame is not on the teachers. However, there has been some very poor strategic decision-making by the school board that does affect the education of the student body. For example, Longstreth kids were moved into McDonald before the school was completed. Now the kids are cramped into classes, much larger classes at that, and at the end of March are expected to then move into a new school. No other school has had to move mid-year. It is disruptive to learning and ridiculous to expect kids to get acclimated to a new environment at the end of the school year after already trying to navigate a new situation in moving to McDonald at the beginning of the year. All the while having to learn with the constant sound of construction going on. I am beyond frustrated with how little forethought was given to this mega school creation. So, knowing WT is in its fourth year of AYP warning maybe more action should have been taken before it has come to drastic measures, that is some more forethought. For the students that scored 2200 or higher, how many was that? A small % of the student body I'm sure. That is not to knock the teachers who consistently do their job. There are so many that do. However, that is not the majority of the student body scoring as such and that is the problem that needs to be fixed.

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