The "success" of a school district is often measured through test scores, graduation rates, rankings, and awards. However, at North Allegheny, we place equal emphasis on things like student engagement, career and college readiness, digital citizenship, and student and staff wellness. If these are things that we value, how might we begin to balance the conversation in a way that more holistically looks at "success" for North Allegheny?
During the 2016-2017 school year, a team of District representatives researched this topic and collected feedback from a variety of stakeholders regarding how we might measure success beyond the typical metrics of test scores, graduation rates, and rankings. This community conversation led to the Framework you see below. The Framework serves as an important communication tool regarding what we measure and why. Data collected through each of these measures is analyzed annually through the Measuring Success Annual Report, and is traditionally presented to the School Board and the community each December.
The mission of the North Allegheny School District is to prepare all students for success in a changing world. The goal of the Measuring Success Framework is to ensure that the District is meeting this mission through a culture of continuous improvement.
Click on a success factor in the graphic below to read information about each.
Information about each success factor in the graphic below can be found under the graphic.
The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) is administered annually in Pennsylvania classrooms in grades 3 through 8. Students take PSSAs in English Language Arts and Mathematics every year and Science in grades 4 and 8. These assessments are based on the PA Core Standards. Student’s score in either the Advanced, Proficient, Basic, or Below Basic level for each assessment. In addition, the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS) is a statistical analysis of PSSA assessment data that provides districts and schools with growth data to add to achievement data. Measuring student growth provides educators with valuable information to ensure they are meeting the academic needs of groups of students, as well as individual students.
Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. The Keystone Exams serve as high school accountability assessments for federal and state purposes. These assessments are based on the PA Core Standards. Student’s score in either the Advanced, Proficient, Basic, or Below Basic level for each assessment. In addition, the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS) is a statistical analysis of Keystone assessment data that provides districts and schools with growth data to add to achievement data. Measuring student growth provides educators with valuable information to ensure they are meeting the academic needs of groups of students, as well as individual students.
North Allegheny is beginning to utilize aimswebPlus as a universal screener at the elementary level. The screener is administered to students in kindergarten through fifth grade three times a year. The data functions as a benchmark for student achievement and growth in Math and English Language Art skills and then assists teachers in instructional choices to either remediate or enrich skills based on student performance on the benchmark assessments in the fall, winter, and spring.
In 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education developed and released the first ever School Performance Profiles (SPP). The SPP is a web-based resource for districts/schools to communicate performance results to various constituencies and assist districts and schools in aligning and focusing resources for continuous improvement. In addition to important “fast facts” for each school, a building-level academic score is calculated. The score is based on indicators of academic achievement, academic growth, closing the achievement gap, and graduation/attendance and is represented as a number between 0-100.
Throughout the school year, various state, regional, and national awards and recognitions are bestowed upon schools and school districts. North Allegheny has a proud history of receiving many of these awards. In addition, a number of organizations and publications release rankings based on a variety of factors. While each of these rankings are based on different variables, it provides the District with a snapshot regarding where the District stands in relationship to its peers. The District also honors students and employees who have achieved state and national level recognition by presenting them with Distinguished Achievement Awards (DAAs).
Given the District’s investment in technology (FOCUS 2020) it is important to measure the impact it is having on teaching and learning. There are four specific technology domains that are analyzed each year: Classroom, Access, Skills, and Environment. These are the essential factors needed for successful implementation of technology in the classroom.
In addition, the District presents an annual update to the School Board and community highlighting how technology is transforming the learning environment for students and ways that the District is focusing on digital citizenship.
Connecting students' interests to their potential career paths early ensures active participation in their own academic success and opens their eyes to the wide world of career opportunities. Career awareness activities allow students to understand how their strengths, goals, skills, aspirations, and interests can lead to exciting careers.
The goal for all North Allegheny graduates is that they are ready for postsecondary opportunities; whether at a college or university, a technical/training program, the military, or moving directly into the workforce or self-employment. College readiness can be measured through assessments such as the SAT, ACT and AP exams and by using the comparison tools available in Naviance. Student readiness in many career and technical areas can be measured through the NOCTI exam. It is also important to receive feedback from students a few years after they graduate to determine, anecdotally, how well their experiences in the District prepared them for life after North Allegheny.
Engagement is defined as strong relationships between students, teachers, families, and schools, and strong connections between schools and the broader community. Student engagement is a key element of a positive school climate, with a large body of research linking it to academic achievement. Students are emotionally engaged when they like school, and are interested and identify with school. Students are cognitively engaged when they exert extra effort to do well in school, when they self-regulate, have high academic self-concept, engage in meaningful and relevant learning activities, and set goals for their academic success. School Connectedness refers to those activities that allow students to explore areas of interest outside the classroom, including extra-curricular activities and athletics.
A positive school environment is defined as a school having appropriate facilities, well-managed classrooms, available school-based health supports, and a clear, fair disciplinary policy. There are many hallmarks of the academic, disciplinary, and physical environments of schools with a positive climate that support positive student outcomes.
School safety is defined as schools and school-related activities where students are safe from violence, bullying, harassment, and substance use. School safety is linked to improved student and school outcomes. In particular, emotional and physical safety in school are related to academic performance. Programs that educate students about social and emotional skills can substantially improve students' physical and emotional safety.
Wellness involves sustainable healthy habits that focus on exercise, nutrition, and overall mental health. The District is focusing on a variety of opportunities to instill these habits for all students; enabling them to appropriately manage academic and social pressures and build the necessary skills for long-term wellness and overall happiness.
Wellness involves sustainable healthy habits that focus on exercise, nutrition, and overall mental health. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, come to work more often, and create positive learning environments for students.
In order to meet the District’s mission of Preparing All Students for Success in a Changing World, staff members must see how their contributions directly impact student outcomes. Employees who are engaged, and believe in the effectiveness, direction, and leadership of the school district are committed to creating optimal learning opportunities for students and continuing the District’s tradition of excellence.