Warwick students excel in science

By on November 6, 2019

The Warwick School District received two report cards at the Nov. 5 Warwick School Board committee of the whole meeting.
One was academic, and the other was financial.

Dr. Ron Hallett, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, reported in the 2018-19 Student Performance Review that there were not a lot of differences from the previous year.

As he went over performance at each of the schools, it was apparent that Warwick School District students tend to do far better in science than in math.
As school board member Leslie Penkunas noted, “It looks like when it comes to STEM, we need more focus on the ‘M’ in STEM.”

Hallett agreed, citing the high achievement of all four elementary schools in science PSSA tests. Two of the elementary schools — Kissel Hill with 95 and John Beck with 90 — far exceeded the state PSSA averages of 78 in science.

In contrast, math scores were the same or lower than state averages in most grades that are tested at the four elementary schools. Third- and fourth-graders at John Beck scored 74 and 55, which exceeded state averages. At John R. Bonfield, fifth-graders topped the state average with a score of 51. Kissel Hill’s third, fourth, and fifth graders scored higher, at 68, 50, and 53. Only sixth-graders at Lititz Elementary scored higher at 59.

As Hallett noted, Warwick School District students on average tend to perform better at math than students statewide. But with state math scores as low as 30, the bar is not set very high. This may be reflective of nationwide and state trends that demonstrate complacency with math proficiency.

Dr. Ron Hallett, director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, reported in the 2018-19 Student Performance Review that there were not a lot of differences from the previous year. Photo by Laura Knowles.

In the Middle School, there were similar trends in math proficiency, based on PSSA scores. Seventh graders scored an average of 37 compared to state scores of 38 and eighth-graders scored 37 compared to state scores of 32. Middle School PSSA science scores exceeded the state scores, at 74 for Warwick Middle School eighth-graders, compared to state scores of 58.

Hallett reported that one of the factors in the low scores for the middle schools might be that some students were taking more advanced algebra, which was not offered before.

At Warwick High School, 11th graders taking the Algebra I Keystone Exams scored 74, compared to state scores of 63.
In all six schools, from elementary schools to high school, students far exceed state averages in English Language Arts. High school students exceeded Keystone Exams averages in both biology and literature.

Warwick High School’s graduation rate for 2018-19 was 96.6 for four years, compared to the state average of 85.8.

Hallett reported that in June and July, 2019, the student performance file was made available to the district, giving educators the opportunity to make some adjustments in the curriculum. In

October, 2019, student performance data was uploaded to the state database, student performance averages for PSSA and Keystone exams were released, District PVAAS data was released to districts, and district preliminary PSSA/Keystone building performance data was released.

The school district plans to use the test results data to communicate with the administrative team in developing a plan to share summative data with staff. They have conducted a data summit with department leads and held grade level and department data meetings. Plans for departmental curricular reviews for secondary staff will be done in November.

“One of our objectives will be continued work on the K-2 Math program,” said Hallett.

Warwick School District’s financial report card was favorable, as Chief Financial Officer Nathan Wertsch reported on the earliest steps toward the 2020-21 school district budget.

“We are aiming for a zero percent tax increase again next year,” said Wertsch. “Our economic indicators remain strong.”

Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

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