Spring 2023 state assessment scores indicate many Biglerville High School students performed well above the state average on Keystone Exams, while PSSA results were a bit of a mixed bag.
Upper Adams School District Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Joseph Albin presented the spring 2023 results Tuesday at a school board committee meeting.
Albin expressed pride in the overall results but emphasized that these assessments represent a “snapshot” in time. Class size, the number of English language learners, the number of staff, and lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are among the variables that influence results, according to Albin.
Pennsylvania System School Assessments (PSSAs) were administered to grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Students’ results are placed into four categories: below basic, basic, proficient, and advanced, Albin said.
In most cases, the number of students who performed at proficient or advanced levels on the spring 2023 PSSAs at Upper Adams fell within 5% — either above or below — the state average.
The following Upper Adams PSSA results were above the state average in the spring of 2023: grade 3 language arts, grade 3 math, grade 4 math, grade 4 science, grade 5 language arts, grade 5 math, grade 7 language arts, and grade 7 math.
Grade 4 science PSSA results fell well above the state average. Of Upper Adams fourth graders who took the science PSSA in the spring of 2023, 85.4% were proficient or advanced, compared to the state average of 74.2%.
Grade 7 also produced strong results but in math. Of the Upper Adams seventh graders who took the math PSSA in the spring of 2023, 46.9% were proficient or advanced, compared to the state average of 33.2%.
The following Upper Adams PSSA results fell below the state average in the spring of 2023: grade 4 language arts, grade 6 language arts, grade 6 math, grade 8 language arts, grade 8 math, and grade 8 science.
Most Upper Adams PSSA results that fell short of the state average were still within 5% of the average, except for grade 6 math. Of the Upper Adams sixth graders who took the math PSSA in the spring of 2023, 29.7% were proficient or advanced, compared to the state average of 36.5%.
As for Keystone Exams, Biglerville High School students scored exceptionally well on the biology assessment. In the spring of 2023, 66.2% of students were proficient or advanced on the biology Keystone, compared to the state average of 38.7%.
Biglerville High School students stood 15.4% ahead of the state average on the literature Keystone Exam and 6.8% above the state average on the Algebra I exam.
School board members and Superintendent Wesley Doll praised educators for their work, while stating that student success should not be measured by state assessments alone.
Chris Fee was absent from the meeting.
“We hang our hats on things like this, and that’s not where education is. It’s not in a test. It’s in the day-to-day instruction,” board member Ron Ebbert said.
Principals from each building expressed pride in the results while acknowledging there is room for improvement. Doll said all teachers take the results seriously, and some take it personally, too.
“We all have to assess ourselves and where our weaknesses and strengths are,” board member Cindy Janczyk said. “But overall, the teachers need to know that we appreciate how hard they’re working, and the administrators as well.”
Board Vice President Tom Wilson described Upper Adams as a small, rural district that produces graduates who go on to the Ivy League.
“There’s more to our story than these numbers,” Wilson said.
Upper Adams School Board will next meet on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.
Mary Grace Kauffman, freelance reporter, worked six years as a full-time reporter for newspapers in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She has covered topics including business, crime, education, government and features. Mary Grace has a bachelor's degree in communication/journalism from Shippensburg University. She resides in Adams County.