Student proficiency rates in Philadelphia climbed 4 percentage points in both reading and math last spring, marking the sixth straight year of improved District performance on the state standardized test, the PSSA.
Results jumped for all categories of students reported, though proficiency rates for Black and Latino students continue to lag behind those for White and Asian students by 20 or more points. Test scores continue to be sharply lower for 11th graders compared to grades 3-8.
In reading, 45 percent of all students tested scored advanced or proficient, as did 49 percent in math. Reading proficiency peaks in eighth grade, where 56 percent are proficient or advanced. Math scores are highest in third and fourth grades, where 55 percent of students score at least proficient.
School Reform Commission Chair Sandra Dungee Glenn attributed the District’s continued gains to “the effective efforts of teachers and principals, the support of parents, regional and central administration, and most importantly to the hard work of our students.”
The increases translated into modest improvement in the number of Philadelphia schools that made state “Adequate Yearly Progress” (AYP) targets under the federal No Child Left Behind law. Targets are based on test scores, attendance or graduation rates, and test participation rates.
The number of District schools making their AYP targets was up from 107 to 113 this year, despite a higher bar for school proficiency rates in reading and math. Including charter schools, 45 percent of the city’s schools made AYP targets – 145 out of 325.
The District now has 68 schools in the lowest-performing category – “Corrective Action II” status – indicating their failure to meet their AYP targets for five years or more. Twenty Corrective Action II schools from 2007 met their 2008 targets.