PITTSBURGH (AP) — At least 14 school districts in Allegheny County say they believe there are errors in test data less than two weeks before the state releases performance scores for all 3,200 traditional, charter, cyber and technical schools in Pennsylvania.
Allegheny Intermediate Unit executive director Linda Hippert told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Friday that some districts discovered the problem after the state released value-added results earlier in the week.
Hippert said that Pennsylvania's schools chief, Carolyn Dumaresq, assured her that the districts will be able to fix the data.
Tim Eller, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said affected schools will have the option to suppress questionable data until corrections are made. Until then, the agency will compute a rating using available data and issue a revised rating later, he said.
The new School Performance Profiles replace the previous standard known as AYP, or adequate yearly progress, which was based solely on student math and reading scores. Pennsylvania is no longer required to use that benchmark since receiving a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Schools are now judged on data including attendance, participation in standardized testing, graduation rates and closing the achievement gap. Ratings will be updated annually.
Forty percent of the score comes from exam results, while another 40 percent is based on how much progress students make in a given year. Exams include the Pennsylvania System of Student Assessment and high school Keystone tests in English, math and science.
The problem in the data centers on the Keystone tests, which were given for the first time statewide in 2012-13.
On each Keystone exam, there was a bubble students could fill in to indicate if it was an end-of-course exam. If the student filled in the bubble, then the exam counted for a measure of student growth known as the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System or PVAAS.
However, in some districts, few, if any students, filled in the bubble, prompting the districts to challenge the accuracy of their value-added information. The information counts for up to 40 percent of the school's score on the performance profiles and will help determine teacher evaluations statewide for the first time this school year.