Last updated: October 08. 2013 11:26PM - 1084 Views

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The state rolled out its new public school accountability system — the “School Performance Profiles” — in a wheelchair … literally.


All right, that’s using “literally” figuratively, but, after all, Google — the would-be definer of all things information-related, apparently — recently decided “literally” can literally mean “figuratively.” The search engine tech giant decided the definition of “literally” included “Used to acknowledge that something is not literally true but is used for emphasis or to express strong feeling.”


But that’s a digression.


As an article in Saturday’s edition of The Times Leader noted, the state Department of Education decided to release massive amounts of school data, including the new School Performance Profile scores (zero to 100, though “extra credit” lets a school theoretically exceed the upper limit) despite having incomplete data.


When the state website with the data went online, more than 600 schools statewide, including 17 in Luzerne County, had incomplete information and no profile score. Why?


Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said the schools with missing data apparently had submitted incomplete information on some matters, particularly with the new state high school Keystone exams, and the state was creating time to straighten it all out. The state did not want to delay the release of “4.6 million pieces of data” because of a relatively small percentage of iffy information, she said.


The logic of that reasoning is probably best left to a future time when the dust has settled. The good news is twofold: First, three Luzerne County public schools were deemed “reward” schools, meaning they ranked in the top 5 percent statewide in either high academic achievement or high academic growth. Second, not one Luzerne County school landed in the bottom 10 percent statewide.


Under this new system, Luzerne County saw 28 district schools — and 29 public schools, with Bear Creek Community Charter — attain a school performance profile score of 70 or better, which, Dumaresq said, is a good benchmark for this first year of SPP.


True, 14 schools had scores below 70, and 17 — a substantial 28 percent of the 59 county schools on the list — were not scored thanks to the accurate data question. But from what was released, Luzerne County has some points of pride.


A bit more than 62 percent of the county schools with a performance profile score exceeded Dumaresq’s 70-point threshold. The county’s two top scores belonged to Dallas School District, with Wycallis and Dallas Elementary schools hitting 94.2 and 93.1 respectively, and they deserve special mention for that.


The true value of these new scores likely won’t be known for years, assuming this new accountability system lasts long enough to gain weight in the school evaluation world. And one might question the value of all this ranking, regardless of how sophisticated the system.


But it’s hard to deny that, as far as the new state SPP system is concerned, Luzerne County seems to have something to crow about.


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