Six County Schools Exceed State Averages On Keystone Exams
Lake-Lehman High School is at the top of the Luzerne County list for student performance last year on two of the three Keystone Exams, the standardized tests the state requires for high school students.
Lake-Lehman had the highest percentage of students who scored advanced or proficient on the literature exam at 80.3 percent and on the biology exam at 76.7 percent. Dallas and Berwick Area were at the top of list for the algebra I exam, each with 76.8 percent.
West Side Career and Technology Center had the lowest percentage on the biology exam at 27.9 percent and the literature exam at 28.4 percent. Meyers High School had the lowest mark on the algebra I exam at 23 percent.
Six high schools in the county exceeded the state proficiency average on all three Keystone Exams — Lake-Lehman, Berwick Area, Dallas, Crestwood, Pittston Area and Wyoming Area.
Eight high schools failed to meet the state average on all three — Wyoming Valley West, Coughlin, Hazleton, Greater Nanticoke Area, Hanover Area, West Side Career Tech, Meyers and GAR. Northwest Area exceeded the state average on two — Biology and Literature.
The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments in literature, biology and algebra I, and they are the statewide assessment that Pennsylvania uses to comply with accountability requirements in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Keystone scores are reported when a student is in 11th grade, even though the student may have taken the test earlier when he or she was in a prior grade.
Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, new statewide graduation requirements will begin, and students can meet the requirement by scoring proficient or advanced on each Keystone Exam.
“Sounds simple but all Lake-Lehman does is follow the Mission, Beliefs and Core Values on a daily basis,” Lake-Lehman Superintendent James McGovern said in a written response. “We do not believe in teaching to a test. We build relationships one student, parent, teacher, administrator and community member at a time. Scores are a bi-product of relationships. We believe that the human element is the single most important factor in education.”
Educators often cite demographics and socioeconomic status as key indictors of how students perform on standardized tests. Schools with large percentages of “historically underperforming” students typically have lower standardized test scores.
The Department of Education defines “historically underperforming” students as a nonduplicated count of students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and English language learners.
At GAR High School in Wilkes-Barre, 91 percent of students with a reported score on the algebra Keystone exam were “historically underperforming.” That was the highest percentage. Meyers was next at 79 percent, and West Side Tech followed at 77 percent.
Crestwood was the lowest at 20 percent. Dallas was next at 32 percent, and Lake-Lehman followed at 41 percent.
“Research indicates that a key factor in academic success is socioeconomic status,” said Bob Makaravage, Wilkes-Barre Area director of instruction and special education, noting the district had an economically disadvantaged population in 2017-18 of 78 percent.
“When combined with a transient population, this presents our district with one of its greatest challenges in bringing up the proficiency levels of all our students,” he added.
Wilkes-Barre Area currently has three high schools — Meyers, GAR and Coughlin — and plans to consolidate them into new consolidated high school during the 2021-22 school year.
Wilkes-Barre Area students perform “well above average” when compared to students from “similar districts, using an economically disadvantaged population above 75 percent,” Makaravage said. He also noted that data showing individual student growth improved at the high schools.
“We are continually working to improve student performance while increasing growth for all students within the district. However, because Keystone scores are banked until students are in 11th grade, the impact of those improvements might not be apparent in the data for several years.”
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2018 Keystone Exams
Berwick Area 76.8
Pittston Area 74.0
Wyoming Area 67.1
State average 65.2
Northwest Area 60.4
Wyoming Valley West 53.8
Hazleton Area 40.1
Greater Nanticoke Area 35.4
Hanover Area 25.8
West Side Tech 25.2
Pittston Area 74.3
Northwest Area 72.4
Berwick Area 71
Wyoming Area 65.5
State average 64.4
Wyoming Valley West 56.1
Coughlin 50.3 45.3
Hazleton Area 44.8
Greater Nanticoke Area 41
Hanover Area 34.1
West Side Tech 27.9
Northwest Area 79
Berwick Area 77.9
Wyoming Area 75.7
Pittston Area 74.9
State average 72.7
Wyoming Valley West 63.2
Hanover Area 61.1
Hazleton Area 56.6
Greater Nanticoke Area 36
West Side Tech 28.4