By Bella Cassano and Paige Seitam
When it comes to standardized tests, it is not uncommon for Shenango students to outscore those of other local schools. This trend, however, recently shifted, and teachers and staff were resolute to change this. Last year, junior high faculty pushed their students with hopes of improving the school’s PSSA scores.
“The scores had gotten really high across the board, or at least high compared to other local schools, but that was a handful of years ago. The state came to change a lot of the standards the students were being evaluated on when they switched to Common Core, and everyone across the state dropped significantly,” principal Dr. Joe McCormick said. The state average for the 8th grade math tests was around 22% passing rate. This means that only one out of every five students who took the test gained a passing score.
“When one year has a teacher and a set of students who take a test and earn a 90% proficient rate and the following year, students of equal caliber and most likely the exact same teacher have only a 20% passing rate, you know there is an issue that must be addressed,” McCormick noted.
The staff, faculty, and students have been working hard to increase these scores any way possible. Shenango’s rankings are as follows:
ELA 7- #2
ELA 8- #1
Math 7- #6
Math 8- #1
Science 8- #1
AP Participation- #2
Attendance Rate- #2
SHS had five number one rankings. Notably, no other school had more than two. SHS was in the top two in nine of the ten categories. No other school achieved this in more than four of the ten categories. In efforts keep our accomplishments known and to take constant pride in them, STEM students designed plaques to be hung in the lobby. These plaques have all schools in the county listed on them and are adjustable to be moved if rankings change. Shenango stands proudly at the tops of all these lists. These are visual reminders to keep Shenango students motivated and to always do their best.
“Standardized testing is useful as a uniform tool to make sure the kids are learning what they’re supposed to be learning, but it does seem to get a bit overemphasized and consumes too much time and energy,” McCormick said. “There’s way more to a good school than high-performing test schools.” There’s no place that better showcases this philosophy than Shenango High School. One example that shows this philosophy of constant improvement is how the administration recently provided the students with an anonymous survey about the school, which addressed any aspects to their school day on which they can improve. Shenango is always striving to be the best it can be.