Reading School District publishes a District Report Card each year (“Reading PSSA Data”). District results are broken down by gender, ethnicity, and other aggregated groups (eg, IEP, English Language Learners, Migrant students). Results are also broken down based on participation and performance.
With respect to NCLB and Pennsylvania state standards, Reading is far behind most of the schools in Pennsylvania. For PSSA Mathematics in the 2009-10 school year, Reading School District is at 73% proficiency (3rd grade), 62% (8th grade), and 24% (11th grade). These numbers are significantly below the state percentages of 84%, 75%, and 59%, respectively. For PSSA Reading in the 2009-10 school year, Reading School District is at 53% (3rd grade), 61% (8th grade), and 42% (11th grade). The state percentages are 75%, 82%, and 66%, respectively (“Reading PSSA Data”). However, in comparison to numbers from the 2008-09 school year, four of these six percentages are an increased percentage of proficiency and the two decreases were by 1% each.
Within various student groups in 11th grade, the Black student group is the group closest to percentages matching the state averages for both Reading and Mathematics.
To some degree, this paints a realistic picture of our school district. While the data is measured by various ethnic groups, I believe it is difficult to measure progress with relation to a baseline number for individual students or student groups. For example, for some migrant students, it is possible that they did not begin any formal education until coming to the USA at 10 years old. This means that they may have missed the basic building blocks of reading and mathematics and are starting their school career behind many of their classmates.
For someone moving into the district or already living in the district, this data shows the reality – Reading School District is below the state averages, but incremental improvements are being made. In some grade levels, average proficiency has increased by as much as 7% in one school year. For administrators and teachers, more specific data is needed than these overall aggregate numbers. For example, it would be helpful for me as a teacher to know if only 15% of 11th grade math students were proficient in solving a quadratic equation using the quadratic formula, for example. For the general public, it is helpful to know the aggregate numbers and see incremental progress from year to year.
In comparison to Daniel Boone School District (my home district) and Muhlenberg School District (the closest neighboring school district), the county results show a significant gap in proficiency in both Reading proficiency (minimum 20% difference) and Mathematics proficiency (16% difference). Certainly, if I was a parent considering moving into Berks County, I would not consider moving my children into Reading School District based on these test scores (“Berks County PSSA Data”). While it is a positive thing to see the incremental improvements from year to year, such a large gap between Reading School District and the other county districts would cause me great concern as a parent.
Reading PSSA Data. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.readingsd.net/www/readingsd/site/hosting/districtnews/RSD%2009%2010%20Report%20Card.pdf