July 29, 2003, Extra Credit
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July 29, 2003
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Philly Area Schools Use Test Data To Make Sure Every Student is Learning
Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer included an article discussing how school systems in the Philadelphia area are using data from state assessments to make sure every child is learning. Following are excerpts from the article:

"Cheltenham officials may be the champs in the region in tapping into the just-released data showing how students in local schools measure up on state assessments. The tests are known as the PSSAs, for Pennsylvania System of School Assessment. The district scrambled to identify which incoming 12th graders need extra help before taking a retest in late October."

"By the time schools open in September, teachers will have reports revealing a wealth of very specific information about the abilities—and deficiencies—of each student. Based on the tests, for instance, a teacher might know that an incoming fourth grader has a good grasp of arithmetic—one state standard—but needs improvement in calculating measurement, another standard. Such analysis is essential, [assistant superintendent Susan Beerman] said. 'No Child Left Behind is a federal law. It's not going away. We need to do everything in our power to help every single student reach proficiency,' she said. 'To do that, it is critical to know where each student is so that our teachers can design instruction that benefits each child.'"

"In the Neshaminy district in Bucks County, administrators and lead teachers are identifying elementary school students who might benefit from after-school programs. The programs are not mandatory, district spokeswoman Sandra Costanzo said, but students who scored low on the PSSAs will be among those invited to participate. As additional information arrives from the state, school officials will identify subjects where students need more help. Often, this material has been covered in class, but needs to be taught in a different way so that students understand it better, Costanzo said. 'This is really, in a sense, a very good thing because we take a hard look at what we teach and how we're teaching it,' she said."

The article was originally published by Philadelphia Inquirer July 29, 2003 article is no longer available online.


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