The focus is on the positive in the Kennett Consolidated School District, despite disheartening news for the high school.
At Monday night's KCSD board of school directors meeting, superintendent Barry Tomasetti discussed plans for Kennett High School, which is on the School Improvement II listing after failing to meet Adequate Yearly Progress for two years running.
Created as part of the No Child Left Behind initiative, AYP measures student results for three indicators: attendance /graduation rate; academic performance; and test participation.
AYP requires that all groups reach the 'proficient' level in reading or language arts and mathematics, including all racial and ethnic backgrounds, students who are English language learners, economically disadvantaged students, and special education students.
In previous years, ESL and economically disadvantaged student subgroups have driven down test scores despite what Tomasetti calls a history of success with both groups.
'The first thing that is evident is that students achieve at the Kennett school district,' Tomasetti said. 'No Child Left Behind forced us to look at students in different subgroups based on economic factors, or ethnicity, or special needs. But when you take a look at the achievement at Kennett, all of our kids are achieving in some ways.'
In fact, the district recently made the Pittsburgh Business Times' list of 'Over Achieving School Districts,' ranking 44 out of 500 and beating out Unionville-Chadds Ford, Avon Grove and Oxford Area school districts.
'With our Hispanic students, usually their first accomplishment is learning the English language,' he said. 'And the state sets a benchmark on Access testing, which measures language skills, and we meet that benchmark AYP. Out hat goes off to the teachers, who are working with a group that is diverse in many ways and they're all meeting their benchmark.'
Tomasetti said that both the school and the district as a whole are always striving to do better, and that there are plans in place to advance every student, including additional opportunities for kids to learn outside of the usual classroom setting.
At KHS, Tomasetti said they are examining opportunities for math and reading labs, while at the middle and elementary schools programs already exist that give students an extra leg up.
'For those kids that are achieving already, there are enrichment activities to push them further along,' he said. 'For the kids that are in need of help, they focus on specific skill areas.'
Implementing a scaffolded approaching to the classroom, Tomasetti said, is another new approach the district is implementing to help students who are behind.
'In those periods, you try to give prerequisite information for tomorrow's class, rather than catch up on what was missed,' he said. 'The focus on tomorrow's success. And the research has shown that when you work with a student who needs additional assistance in learning, scaffolding is most effective way to approach it.'
Tomasetti said that they are looking at the School Improvement II plan as a strategic plan vehicle that will help the district analyze and measure effectiveness and then adapt it to what is already in place.
'We're always striving to improve, and we have a high level of kids going on to college and major universities,' Tomasetti said. 'And it's heartening to see not only students that are non-Hispanic attending high ranking universities, but kids that were emigrants to here 10 years ago are attending Penn State, Immaculata … and that speaks to the hard work of the \administrators to give the kids those opportunities.'