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Tennent Faces Possible Restructuring; PDE Places Centennial on Warning

Centennial School District has been placed on warning status by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) as not enough students at several of the district's schools have demonstrated grade-level proficiency on state-wide standardized tests.

The Education Committee of the Centennial School Board will hold a meeting to map out a plan for the district following a round of standardized test scores that didn’t make the grade.

Centennial School District did not achieve adequate yearly progress in 2011-12, according to recent PSSA results published on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's website. 

Worse yet, William Tennent High School was placed on Corrective Action 2 for a fourth year.  

"There is no fifth year of 'Corrective Action 2'," said School Board Director Mark Miller at Monday evening's school board meeting.

"There are predators out there, including our own secretary of education, who would love to take control of our brand, spanking new high school if we don't escape this corrective action," he said.

The escape: making adequate yearly progress or AYP.

AYP is how the federal law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), measures the achievement of public schools across the nation.

In Pennsylvania, public school students in grades 3 through 8 as well as students in grade 11 take standardized reading and math tests known as the PSSA each spring.

Students then receive scores of below basic, basic, proficient or advanced based on the results of these standardized tests.

Every year the percentage of students expected to demonstrate proficiency grows. This growth will continue until 2014, when NCLB calls for 100 percent of students to test at a level of proficient or higher.

In 2011-12, Pennsylvania called for 78 percent of students in districts and schools to score proficient or above on the math test and 81 percent of students to score proficient or above in the reading assessment. 

The AYP requirements are meant to measure whether schools or districts are making sufficient progress towards the year 2014 goal of 100 percent proficiency.

According to PDE, William Tennent High School, Klinger Middle School, Log College Middle School, Stackpole Elementary School and Willow Dale Elementary School did not make AYP for 2011-12. 

The middle and elementary schools were placed on warning, as they had made AYP in the prior year. WTHS, however, has only made AYP twice since the inception of NCLB in 2001, once in 2010 and once in 2008. 

Click on the .pdf to view a graphic representation of the meaning of the state's different AYP designations.

For schools that receive federal Title I grant funds, a fourth year of corrective action status means that the district needs to begin to prepare a plan to restructure the school.

According to greatschools.org, the restructuring plan must include one of the following alternative governance arrangements:

  • reopen the school as a public charter school
  • replace all or most of the school staff, including the principal
  • enter into a contract to have an outside entity operate the school
  • arrange for the state to take over operation of the school
  • or any other major restructuring of the school's governance arrangement.

According to the parameters of NCLB, if a school that receives Title I funding lapses into a fifth year of corrective action 2 status, the school would be required to implement the previously agreed upon restructuring plan.

The statute does not define the consequences of the fifth year of corrective action for a non-Title I school. 

The Centennial School Board's Education Committee will meet to discuss the results of the 2011-12 PSSA exams and map out a plan of action for the district and the high school Tuesday, Oct. 2  at 7 p.m. in the board meeting room of the administration building.

Pete Krenshaw September 28, 2012 at 02:41 PM
WTHS is not a vacant building...it is OUR PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL. I do NOT want a chart school coming in to take over out public high school. To me, the idea is completely unacceptable. I am not affiliated with the school board and believe those on the board and up for re-election should be voted out. ALL OF THEM. That being said, if WTHS does not achieve AYP this up coming year, the election would be a moot point since there would be no public high school to deal with anymore. The loss of the public high school would almost certainly lower our property values, how could it not? This current school board needs to get their act together and the community - all of us - need to do our part as well.
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Once again mis-information is put out to the public. Chartering is only 1 option that is available under corrective active. Why do you think the SB has been getting rid of buildings. They knew failure of AYP was going to happen with WT. This is the actual guidline that they were supposed to follow the 1ST year. Every state education agency is required to determine which schools do not meet AYP every year. However, a specific designation by the U.S. Department of Education called "Federal school improvement status" applies only to schools that receive Title I funds. State education agencies are required to determine what larger goals are required of every school as they fail to perform annually.[14]
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 02:49 PM
If Title I schools do not meet AYP for two consecutive years, they are placed in "Choice" School Improvement Status, which means they must develop an improvement plan, provide students the option to transfer to a different school and provide them transportation to get there, and they must use part of their Title I funds for professional development for their teachers and staff. If a school does not make AYP for three consecutive years, they will be in "Supplemental Services" School Improvement Status, which means that in addition to all the "Choice" requirements above, they must also use some of their Title I funds to support students by providing tutoring or after-school programs from a state-approvded provider.
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 02:49 PM
If a school fails AYP for four years in a row they enter "Corrective Action" Improvement Status, where they must provide both "Choice" and "Supplemental Services" as well as choose one of the following: Replace responsible staff, Implement a new curriculum, Decrease a school’s management authority; Appoint an external expert to advise school, or restructure the internal organization of the school. [15] Lastly, if a school fails AYP for 5 years or more, they must plan to and implement one of the following: Chartering: Closing and reopening as a public charter school. Reconstitution: Replacing school staff, including the principal, relevant to the failure in the school. Contracting: contracting with an outside entity to operate the school. State takeovers: turning the school operations over to the state education agency. Any Other major governance restructuring: engaging in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental reforms.
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 02:52 PM
so what STAFF is being replaced? where is the new curriculum? Are they decreasing the schools managements authority?? See how the SB hides things from the community..
Larry September 28, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Property value is the reason for our downturn in the economy remember!!!So move now if that plays in YOUR decisions !
Pete Krenshaw September 28, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Pamela - Thank you for the additional information. This does show how our current (and previous) school boards have been ineffective in dealing with this matter in particular. At the end of the day, I still expect WTHS to remain under the School Districts control. Anything less would be unacceptable in my opinion.
Larry September 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM
You are correct. I just love when I drive but MaST on Byberry road and see an old steel plant that probably went out of business because of a greedy union and reopened as a very good school that operates at 30% less than a traditional public school and has 100% graduation --96% attendance-and something like 95% college placement all in PHILLY.
Larry September 28, 2012 at 03:41 PM
They are just doing what they did before to improve.Nothing I like how Hurricane Miller points out all the corruption in government .The Attorney General did point out Charter schools "can" get away with making more money then should but that PA could simply "FIX" the problems but they don't.Makes for easy fodder. Corbett could change law that lets failing SDs fire teachers. Cut staff size and salary not services to abide by Act 1 Stop forced unionism Stop teachers from striking (which has already been called unconstitutional.
Common Sense September 28, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I wasn't going to post again, but Pamela is apparently missing the entire point and I don't want the rest of you sucked into her mid-directed rhetoric. She seems to have a vendetta against the school board--caring nothing about potential repercussions to this district as a whole. I haven't been happy with the school board, but that is a mere ant hill compared to the freight train bearing down on us. The fact is, if the state decides to take over Tennent, there is something called "negative publicity". Familiar with it, Pamela? How many potential home buyers would be willing to buy a home in a district forced to restructure its high school...or forced into charter school status? Don't kid yourself. What do you think that would do to your property value? (And don't say you're not planning on selling...because you never know....) If you think that you're accomplishing something by targeting the school board instead of contacting your state representatives....well, pursuant to my earlier comment....if the shoe fits.... Now I can only hope that common sense prevails with the rest of us.
Warminster Resident September 28, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Funny how the nation can support referees of NFL football when they strike, but not teachers. Seems like our priorities are sort of out of wack, huh? And also: Centennial's not striking and I'm pretty sure the union would support any sort of input regarding alternatives to NCLB, 'cause teachers hate it - so what's the point of even mentioning that? Suggestion: go check out PDE. search for PSSA scores, and take a look at how Centennial measures up. You all have full access to demographics, scores, percentages, etc. Maybe do that before you start casting blame in any direction. This is a failing on multiple levels: an assessment tool that is being used in a way it was never intended, restructuring that doesn't take into consideration the disruption to the learning environment, lack of parental understanding, interest, and/or support of student achievement, trying to prepare students for a test in March or April that assesses a year's worth of schooling, poor test construction in the first place - placing blame, though, doesn't do anything but maybe make you feel better. It solves nothing. Ask your children's teachers what your child can do at home to continue their PSSA preparation; ask their teachers what they do in the classroom to support that as well. Be an active participant in your child's education, not a passive complainer on a message board.
Warminster Resident September 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/news_and_media/7234/p/1237291
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Excellent ideas. What should those of us do, who have children that excelled in their scoring? Do we hope that the High School gets it together by next year? When do we start to demand accountability from those people who are in charge of our childrens' education? I don't care about "negative publicity", we have that already with the outrageous decisions that this district has made todate. I don't care about my property value. I care about the quality of my child's education, which apparently is not available at the high school. What options do we have for a better education for them? Private or Parochial? I rely on the public school and I believe it is my right to demand full accountability from the School Board and Administration especially with regards to a curriculum that is not working.
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 05:14 PM
The value of Education is more important than the value of Property.
Pamela September 28, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Pete- I am not advocating that the High School be taken over by the State. I am advocating for a change in curriculumn, a change in leadership, a limited SB, and the option of Charter schools within the district. I believe that if this district can not offer the level of education that is every child's right, then as parents we should have the option to send them some place else with the district.
Larry September 28, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Both wildly overpayed Both under worked partime Does anyone know the salaries of both! Contract = ticket and tax increase
Alberta O'Brien September 28, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I think everyone should take a minute and appreciate Chels, one of the responders up there, alum 2010. It was a well written and thought out response. I am not from Centennial, but was reading this out of curiosity. PSSAs cannot measure that well written response. Maybe looking at college success is a better indicator.
Rush Limbo September 29, 2012 at 12:17 PM
"There is no fifth year of 'Corrective Action 2'," said School Board Director Mark Miller at Monday evening's school board meeting. "There are predators out there, including our own secretary of education, who would love to take control of our brand, spanking new high school if we don't escape this corrective action," he said I HAVE HEARD IT ALL...., Hey Mark Miller bricks and mortar, you and the teachers ( and supporters ) lets stop blaming NCLB, PARENTS, STUDENTS, AND SO CALLED "PREDITORS" who want buldings. Lets bounce a few under performing teachers and put the rest on notice. Lets have a consumer (student) driven system and stop protecting teachers who pompously get offended, like their own students who are evaluated AKA report cards, and have a measure of accountability for teachers. Buildings, teacher/student ratio, money, will not save a failing system, we need a state wide voucher program. BTW LETS DISOLVE THE FEDERAL EDUCATION DEPT WHILE WE ARE AT IT ( a Jimmy Carter error).
Chels September 29, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Thank you. That's very nice of you!
Marie C September 29, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Thomas Hezel, Stackpole made AYP every year except the year they implemented this everyday math program. Last year Stackpole started everyday math. As you can see McDonald made AYP and they used normal math for grades 3-5. McDonald had more students than Stackpole and they still passed. What's going to happen this year when all schools and all grades are using this everyday math program? Here's an example of this everyday math; on Monday, 1st grades homework was to go home and find numbers & paste them into their hw book, use magazines, newspapers, etc. and then on Thursday, do you know what 4th grades math hw was? You guessed it: go home and ask your family, look in newspaper, mag., etc. for numbers around the house or any number you can think of. Now, my child scored advance on both of her PSSA's, was at McDonald last year, and passed 4th grade study island last year in 3rd grade, is learning the same stuff she learned last year, is bored to death in school, etc. Hopefully she can still achieve a prof. or advance this year on her pssa. The next lesson in math is how to add 3 digit problems in about 3 or more steps instead of the normal way. She already knows how to add, but now they are going to teach her a new & complex way with the same answer at the end. I can't tell you why Tennet hasn't passed, just what I hear and that is the kids walk around all day w/cell phones, wear headphones in class, etc. Where's the accountability there?
southampton parent September 29, 2012 at 07:48 PM
We shall see how all this works out with gull classrooms teachers and support teachers wondering the classes. My daughter comes home and tells me her desk isn't even facing the teacher. What is that about. Tennent kids don't care and you should know you learn that from home. Now a days people are afraid to do anything cause parents say not my kid or if you do anything they are quick to sue anyone. Kids now a day are so disrespectful except for a small percentage anymore. I don't know how anyone can be a teacher when you cannot get respect or anyone to even pay attention anymore
mork September 30, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I agree that teachers pay should be based on ability to teach and motovate not payed for their years of service or tenure or degrees earned at some fly by night online UNIVERSITY . SOME OF THE DUMBEST AND MOST UNSTABLE PEOPLE I KNOW HAVE MASTERS AND DOCTORIT DEGREES.
Larry October 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM
That about covers it. Evidently the teachers have not done anything to improve their low scores for 3 years.They had the "DATA" but still didn't act.(I think ) they are running into teachers that are too complacent and will not work any harder . I do think that firing some underperforming ones is a start. Remember most teachers are so far removed from the outside economy and real business environment that they feel threatened when they have to make a better "Widget" faster,cheaper and better quality.
Leigh Lieberman October 04, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Naive district policies and lousy state standards are more responsible for our problems than the teachers. It would be very hard to overstate the importance of high caliber academic materials to maximize the development of a child's potential. Youngsters need regular mental as well as physical exercise and challenges to promote full growth. Unfortunately, PA does not require that elementary school teachers have a solid foundation in arithmetic and PA's Math standards were developed without consulting any math experts. Programs like Everyday Math, EM, were designed by and for adults with very little judgment regarding the level of mathematical sophistication required to pursue highly skilled college and career opportunities in an increasingly global economy. It is fundamentally unsuited to prepare youngsters to compete academically, in analytically-based fields such as math, science, engineering and medicine. In far too many urban neighborhood schools, including Phila. and NY, it is virtually impossible for kids to break into such areas after years of reliance on cripplingly shallow programs such as EM that undermine their development.
Leigh Lieberman October 04, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Math is "relentlessly cumulative". If you screw-up the foundation, snowballs have a better chance you-know-where than such mathematically under-prepared children. The majority of American girls are also marginalized with respect to highly skilled career paths; very few are taking courses such as AP Calculus BC and AP Physics since their math is so weak compared to better prepared students. All students deserve strong math programs like Singapore provide. What the United States Can Learn From Singapore's World-Class Mathematics System: An Exploratory Study - By: American Institutes for Research 1/28/05 - unequivocally warns that mile-wide, inch deep PreK-8 math curriculum must be dramatically streamlined. It critiques 2 of the most popular but shockingly shallow American text series: Scott-Foresman - a traditional program and EM - a reform/constructivist one. Follow the money! The heavily marketed math books that most of America's public school students have been using for years are atrocious. Our high school math performance is rotten because our elementary schools have been increasingly buying into warm and fuzzy, shallow, spiral pedagogy for many years.
Pamela October 04, 2012 at 03:19 PM
My daughter is in the gifted program. She has been calculating double and triple digits since 2nd grade. Math homework for 4th grade on Tuesday night: The number 4 button on your calculator is broken. Write 6 different ways to equal 40. ie 2x2x10, 1(2x2x10), 2x10+20,.....ARE YOU KIDDING ME!! Nice Math building blocks for a gifted child in 4th grade! This is why I personally think this district is run by INCOMPETENT IDIOTS and why we should have the option of a Charter School!
kidsfirst October 04, 2012 at 05:34 PM
The reason why a district like Wallingford-Swarthmore would be far more successful is directly related to demographics. Let's face it, how many of our kids are in ESL classes? That has a very big and direct impact on the scoring system. Comparing to districts like CB and Council Rock is in fact, not comparable. The teachers in those districts have children that already know the language. The responsibility does fall back on the parents in that regard. The children should know how to speak English before starting school. How can a teacher teach kids to their level with kids who cannot even comprehend what is being said? The parents of these kids do not even speak the language. Why should every handout from the school have one side in English and the other in Spanish? Why should so much funding and resources be put into teaching the language? It should be as basic a requirement as knowing the alphabet and how to count when starting school. However, that is not the case and the district then is taxed with teaching the kids not only how to read and write but how to learn a whole new language. That takes considerable time and resources and is directly impacting the kids who already know the language. This is a huge issue and should be addressed.
southampton parent October 04, 2012 at 06:06 PM
i agree kidsfirst. It is ridiculous that we have these kids in class who don't speak english and teachers have to teach them. What happen to us We are making everything easier by our papers written in english and spanish. Our website in english and spanish. We are teaching in English it should all be english and everyone needs to be speaking and doing work in English!
Leigh Lieberman October 04, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Pamela, You have my deepest sympathy - very few people are professionally qualified to make sound public school academic decisions, particularly regarding mathematical issues. I knew of only one educator that I would care to trust; for a short while she was our acting superintendent and I had high hopes for our district and looked forward to helping our youngsters expand their opportunities; she has since successfully sued our district. I am actively involved with national experts who told me about the exquisitely fine Singapore-based math textbooks. First, I urge you to get and start using quality materials ASAP. Second, I recommend you register your daughter for math competitions: -- Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools: http://www.moems.org/program.htm I ran the program for my son's school, while he was in 2nd grade. -- 24 Game - http://www.24game.com/ - also used in ES + MS competition FYI - valuable report: A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Nation_Deceived/ND_v1.pdf PS Wallingford Swarthmore SD is not successful because of EM, but in spite of it. The data for Central Bucks is also disappointing given their demographics. I urge parents to be pro-active regarding educational issues. A laissez-faire approach is too dicey to risk on something potentially so pivotal. Our public schools are not taking the need for focused rigorous academics seriously.
Pamela October 10, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Thank you so much for the info. I have begun to check out these things myself, since this district is not concerned about the education of its students. I guess billboards and posters are more important. Another fine example of quality leadership.

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