Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Michael Mahon discusses test scores at school board meeting

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com | August 25th, 2015 1:00 pm

CLARKS SUMMIT — Abington Heights Superintendent of Schools Michael Mahon discussed trends in scores from the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) and Keystone Exams during a regular meeting of the district’s school board members on Aug. 19.

According to Mahon, scores from both tests have “plummeted” across the state.

“Our scores, in many places, went down,” he said. “One of our buildings, Waverly Elementary, maintained a level of 93 percent. The positive thing we’ve seen in nearly all cases is that our decline has been far less than the state’s decline.”

Mahon was particularly concerned about discrepancies in mathematics scores between the two exams.

“One specific instance of testing, I think is telling and troubling, has to do with our eighth graders,” he said. “Many of them take algebra and we were absolutely thrilled that 98 percent of Algebra 1 students in eighth grade passed the Keystone Algebra Exam. Because not all students take algebra in eighth grade, those students also have to take the PSSA Exam geared toward all eighth-grade math students. Interesting, in the PSSA exam, the same group of students that was 98 percent proficient in the Keystone Exam was only 75 percent proficient on a lesser test.”

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in three subjects: Algebra I, Literature and Biology, and are one component of Pennsylvania’s system of high school graduation requirements. The PSSAs measure how well students did in reading, mathematics, science and writing, according to Pennsylvania’s academic standards.

“We’re very focused and will look at these tests to see where we didn’t do well,” Mahon said. “We’re motivated to increase our meaningful levels of proficiency.”

During the personnel report, board members approved leaves of absences for Waverly Elementary teacher Amanda Kistler and middle school teacher Beth Kelly, effective the first semester of the 2015-16 school year; and middle school teacher Maurella Wylie, effective Sept. 4 to Oct. 27.

The board also approved the resignations of long-term substitute teacher Emily Johnson, effective Aug. 8, and South Abington Elementary teacher Angela Schobel, effective Feb. 7, 2016.

The board approved the appointments of long-term substitute elementary teacher Elizabeth Behrens, long-term substitute early childhood education teacher Brian Crowley and long-term substitute elementary teacher Ashley Kane, effective for the 2015-16 school year; long-term substitute elementary teacher Samantha Morgan, effective for the first semester of the 2015-16 school year; full-time high school mathematics teacher Michael Hofmann Jr., long-term substitute art teacher Carrie Heron, full-time special education teacher Emily Johnson, full-time middle level science teacher Christopher Kloss, full-time music teacher Dana Cerminaro, long-term substitute special education teacher Jennifer Royall and long-term substitute English teacher Jennifer Tarr, effective for the 2015-16 school year; long-term substitute family and consumer teacher Linda Wall and long-term substitute elementary teacher Sarah Simon, effective for the first semester of the 2015-16 school year; and half-time Title 1 mathematics teacher Colleen Shimko, effective for the 2015-16 school year.

In other business,the board members passed a motion to approve change order No. 1 for the Waverly Elementary School roof project for $14,440 after it was discovered additional work is necessary.

“We learned there are 18 drains on the roof that have to be replaced,” Mahon said. “We had hoped to reuse the drains, but we anticipated this potential and an alternate was included in the bids.”

Board members approved a motion to engage MedReview to conduct a medical claims audit.

Members of the Abington Heights School Board will conduct a work session at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at the Abington Heights Administration Building, 200 E. Grove St., Clarks Summit.

By Robert Tomkavage


Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.