School District Of The City Of York
Official academic growth data reflect significant gains for York City students
The School District of the City of York has received official data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education that indicates our Recovery Plan strategies to improve student achievement are working.
For the first time since Pennsylvania started using the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment (PVAAS) measure of student academic growth, district-wide data reflect that York City students in grades 4-8 met the standard for PA Academic Growth in English Language Arts and exceeded the standard for PA Academic Growth in Math.
From an individual building perspective, data show that six out of seven district K-8 schools met the PA Academic Growth standards in both English Language Arts and Math. At the William Penn Senior High School, growth measurements indicate that students met or exceeded PA Academic Growth standards on the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Biology and Literature.
The district is also pleased to report increases in School Performance Profile (SPP) scores for six of eight district schools.
“This data tells me that the School District of the City of York has turned a corner,” Superintendent Dr. Eric Holmes said. “Real change does not happen quickly, and we still have a long way to go. But I believe we are moving forward in the right direction.”
Growth data are reported through PVAAS, which is a statistical analysis that measures the academic progress of groups of students over time. The most recent data reflect students’ performance on the 2016-17 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA).
While York City students’ overall performance on the PSSA test remains well below the state average, 2016-17 test results also harbor evidence of progress.
“I see significant numbers of students moving from the ‘below basic’ level to the ‘basic’ level across grades, schools and subjects,” Holmes said. “That means we are making significant gains from year to year, and I believe we will start to see more students move into the ‘proficient’ and ‘advanced’ levels in the coming years.”
Holmes encouraged the community to evaluate students’ test performance and the school district’s progress in the context of the severe socioeconomic circumstances that manifest as obstacles to academic achievement.
Of all 500 Pennsylvania school districts, the School District of the City of York has the highest percentage – 55 percent — of students living in “acute poverty,” a category of extreme poverty that influences the state’s newest education funding formula.
Last year, 86 percent of district students qualified for free-and-reduced lunch under federal guidelines. Nearly 370 district families self-reported as homeless.
Between the beginning and the end of the 2016-17 school year, 1,328 students registered as new students in the district. During the same time period, 1,274 students withdrew from the district. Those numbers do not include building-to-building transfers. Enrollment during the 2016-17 school year hovered around 5,500 students.
Of those 5,500 students, 37 percent qualified for English Learner services as students learning English as a second language.
At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, the district administered an assessment that measures a student’s Kindergarten readiness. About 62 percent of the district’s Kindergarten students tested “below” or “well below” benchmark.
“The majority of our students come to us in Kindergarten needing intensive academic support. We do not turn them away, and we do not make excuses. We embrace the task of catching them up as quickly as possible,” Holmes said. “So when I see significant numbers of students moving from ‘below basic’ to ‘basic’ on the PSSA, I know we’re delivering the high-quality education York City’s children deserve.”
The School District of the City of York has been working since the 2015-16 school year to implement the ambitious strategies of its Recovery Plan, which is designed to improve student achievement over time.
Those strategies include the opening of the Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy in August 2017; the implementation of a new teacher-developed K-6 curriculum in 2016-17; the piloting of a district-wide teacher looping program in 2016-17 with full implementation launched for 2017-18; commitment to a Distributed Leadership program started in 2015-16; launch of the Freshman Academy in 2015-16; continued support and expansion of the district’s Pre-K, After School and Communities in Schools programs; commitment to improved communications strategies launched in 2015-16; overhaul of the district’s discipline policy and implementation of a Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports program in 2016-17; and commitment to addressing students’ social-emotional needs through the hiring of social workers and behavior specialists in 2016-17.