Pennsylvania’s new list of struggling schools looks beyond usual suspects

Pennsylvania has a new list of struggling schools that includes those underserving students in subgroups such as English language learner and special education.

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A standardized test. (via Shutterstock)

A standardized test. (via Shutterstock)

Updated: 3:45 p.m.

Pennsylvania released a list of 289 struggling schools Thursday that will have to develop “improvement plans” with the direction of state advisors. The schools will share some portion of $40 million. State officials declined to say how they will divide the money.

Unlike in previous years, the state focused less on schools with low overall test scores, and included schools where certain subgroups of students failed to meet academic benchmarks.

Those subgroups include economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, special education students, and “federally established race and ethnic populations,” according to the state.

The new designations change the calculus for how the state defines struggling schools, drawing scrutiny to some schools that would have previously flown under the radar.

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Each identified school will work with a team of state officials to create improvement plans, though there’s no plan to radically intervene at schools that fail to improve.

In previous iterations of this federally mandated program, schools that didn’t improve faced options that could include firing staff, closing schools, or converting traditional public schools into charters.

But when the Congress replaced the No Child Left Behind Act with a new law called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), it gave states more flexibility.

Pennsylvania’s new approach doesn’t mention the same sort of major changes, even for schools that stagnate or backslide.

“The Wolf administration recognizes that students are more than test scores and that many factors contribute to student success,” said Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera in a statement. “The schools designated today will receive a variety of supports tailored to their unique needs. Ultimately, this extra support will create a more successful learning environment for students.”

Under the new designations, schools can receive one of two labels: Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) or Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (A-TSI).

Most of the schools that qualify for these labels receive Title I money, a federal program that sends dollars to schools with lots of low-income students.

CSI schools are Title I schools that scored among the bottom five percent in the state according to a formula that looks at test scores, attendance figures, and other data. Non-Title-I schools can qualify if they graduate less than two-thirds of their students.

All CSI schools will receive a so-far-undisclosed amount of extra federal money for at least two school years, although it’s unclear whether that support will extend beyond the first two years.

Schools in the second category, A-TSI, are Title I recipients that scored among the bottom five percent in at least one student subgroup. If any school has graduation rates below 67 percent in a certain sub-group they can also get an A-TSI label.

In a plan submitted to the federal government, state officials said they would “continue to evaluate” whether A-TSI schools will get extra money.

Schools named Tuesday will remain under state watch until 2021.

In the past, Pennsylvania labeled schools as focus or priority schools, using a formula weighted more heavily toward standardized test scores.

Now, some schools that wouldn’t have met the focus or priority thresholds will earn an A-TSI designation. That may sound like a semantic distinction, but it will actually change the pool of schools receiving extra support.

Take Philadelphia as an example.

Under the old system, 42 percent of all focus and priority schools were located in the state’s largest public school district.

Now, only 21 percent of CSI and A-TSI schools are run by the School District of Philadelphia.

Superintendent William Hite praised the state’s new method of designating schools, and welcomed the shift away from “draconian” interventions at low-performing schools.

“We didn’t find that was, over the long haul, very beneficial,” said Hite.

Under Hite’s leadership Philadelphia converted more than a dozen traditional public schools into charters, although it hasn’t converted any new schools since 2015. The district still has its own process for identifying underperforming schools, and it requires those schools to create improvement plans that can include removing teachers.

CSI Schools

LEA Name School Name
Achievement House CS Achievement House CS
ACT Academy Cyber CS ACT Academy Cyber CS
Agora Cyber CS Agora Cyber CS
Allentown City SD Francis D Raub MS
Allentown City SD Harrison-Morton MS
Allentown City SD South Mountain MS
Allentown City SD Trexler MS
ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber CS ASPIRA Bilingual Cyber CS
Bethlehem Area SD Broughal MS
Center for Student Learning CS at Pennsbury Center for Student Learning CS at Pennsbury
Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation CS Central Pennsylvania Digital Learning Foundation CS
Chester-Upland SD Chester HS
Chester-Upland SD STEM at Showalter
Chester-Upland SD Toby Farms Intermediate School
Commonwealth Charter Academy CS Commonwealth Charter Academy CS
Crispus Attucks CS Crispus Attucks CS
Esperanza Cyber CS Esperanza Cyber CS
Harrisburg City SD Downey School
Harrisburg City SD Harrisburg HS
Harrisburg City SD Rowland Academy
Hazleton Area SD Freeland El/MS
Hill House Passport Academy CS Hill House Passport Academy CS
Keystone Education Center CS Keystone Education Center CS
Khepera CS Khepera CS
La Academia Partnership CS La Academia Partnership CS
Lancaster SD Hand MS
Lancaster SD Lincoln MS
Lancaster SD Reynolds MS
Lancaster SD Wheatland MS
McKeesport Area SD Founders Hall MS
New Day CS New Day CS
Norristown Area SD Stewart MS
Olney Charter HS Olney Charter HS
Pennsylvania Cyber CS Pennsylvania Cyber CS
Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS Pennsylvania Distance Learning CS
Perseus House CS of Excellence Perseus House CS of Excellence
Philadelphia City SD Amy at Martin
Philadelphia City SD Bache-Martin School
Philadelphia City SD Bartram John – Main
Philadelphia City SD Building 21
Philadelphia City SD Catharine Joseph School
Philadelphia City SD Clemente Roberto MS
Philadelphia City SD Comegys Benjamin B School
Philadelphia City SD Day Anna B School
Philadelphia City SD Dobbins AVT HS
Philadelphia City SD Edison HS/Fareira Skills
Philadelphia City SD Fels Samuel HS
Philadelphia City SD Forrest Edwin School
Philadelphia City SD Frankford HS
Philadelphia City SD Franklin Benjamin HS
Philadelphia City SD Furness Horace HS
Philadelphia City SD Harrington Avery D School
Philadelphia City SD Heston Edward School
Philadelphia City SD Kensington Creative & Performing Arts HS
Philadelphia City SD Kensington Health Sciences
Philadelphia City SD Kensington HS
Philadelphia City SD King Martin Luther HS
Philadelphia City SD Lincoln HS
Philadelphia City SD Mastbaum Jules E AVTS
Philadelphia City SD McKinley William School
Philadelphia City SD Meehan Austin MS
Philadelphia City SD Overbrook HS
Philadelphia City SD Parkway Northwest
Philadelphia City SD Randolph A Philip AVT HS
Philadelphia City SD Rhodes E Washington School
Philadelphia City SD Roxborough HS
Philadelphia City SD Sayre William L MS
Philadelphia City SD School of the Future
Philadelphia City SD South Philadelphia HS
Philadelphia City SD Steel Edward School
Philadelphia City SD Strawberry Mansion HS
Philadelphia City SD The Linc
Philadelphia City SD The SD of Philadelphia Virtual Academy
Philadelphia City SD The U School: Innovative Lab
Philadelphia City SD The Workshop School
Philadelphia City SD Wagner Gen Louis MS
Philadelphia City SD Washington George HS
Philadelphia City SD Washington Grover Jr School
Philadelphia City SD West Philadelphia HS
Pittsburgh SD Academy at Westinghouse
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Classical 6-8
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh King K-8
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Langley K-8
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Morrow K-8
Propel CS-Homestead Propel CS-Homestead
Reach Cyber CS Reach Cyber CS
Reading SD Reading Intermediate HS
Reading SD Southern MS
Steelton-Highspire SD Steelton-Highspire HS
Sto-Rox SD Sto Rox ES
Susq-Cyber CS Susq-Cyber CS
The New Academy CS The New Academy CS
William Penn SD Penn Wood MS
Youth Build Phila CS Youth Build Phila CS

ATSI Schools

LEA Name School
21st Century Cyber CS 21st Century Cyber CS
Albert Gallatin Area SD Albert Gallatin Area SHS
Aliquippa SD Aliquippa JSHS
Allentown City SD Louis E Dierfuff HS
Allentown City SD William Allen HS
Altoona Area SD Altoona Area HS
Altoona Area SD Altoona Area Jr HS
Ambridge Area SD Ambridge Area HS
Antietam SD Antietam MS/HS
Armstrong SD West Shamokin JSHS
Athens Area SD Athens Area HS
Bensalem Township SD Bensalem Twp HS
Bensalem Township SD Robert K Shafer MS
Bethlehem Area SD Freedom HS
Bethlehem Area SD Liberty HS
Bethlehem-Center SD Bethlehem-Center MS
Big Beaver Falls Area SD Beaver Fall MS
Bristol Township SD Truman SHS
Brownsville Area SD Brownsville Area MS
Cameron County SD Cameron County JSHS
Canon-McMillan SD Canon-McMillan SHS
Carlynton SD Carlynton JSHS
Centennial SD William Tennent HS
Central York SD Central York HS
Chambersburg Area SD Chambersburg Area SHS
Charter HS for Architecture and Design Charter HS for Architecture and Design
Chartiers-Houston SD Chartiers-Houston JSHS
Cheltenham SD Cheltenham HS
Chichester SD Chichester SHS
Clairton City SD Clairton ES
Clairton City SD Clairton MS/HS
Coatesville Area SD Coatesville Area SHS
Coatesville Area SD North Brandywine MS
Coatesville Area SD Rainbow ES
Coatesville Area SD Reeceville ES
Coatesville Area SD South Brandywine MS
Collegium CS Collegium CS
Conneaut SD Conneaut Area SHS
Connellsville Area SD Connellsville Area MS
Connellsville Area SD Connellsville Area SHS
Conrad Weiser Area SD Conrad Weiser HS
Corry Area Corry Area HS
Crawford Central SD Meadville Area MS
Crawford Central SD Meadville Area SHS
Dallas SD Dallas MS
Dallas SD Dallas SHS
Daniel Boone Area SD Daniel Boone Area HS
Dover Area SD Dover Area HS
Dubois Area SD Dubois Area SHS
Dunmore SD Dunmore JSHS
East Allegheny SD East Allegheny JSHS
East Stroudsburg Area SD East Stroudsburg SHS North
East Stroudsburg Area SD East Stroudsburg SHS South
Easton Area SD Easton Area MS
Elizabeth Forward SD Elizabeth Forward SHS
Farrell Area SD Farrell Area HS/UMS
Freedom Area SD Freedom Area MS
Governor Mifflin SD Governor Mifflin SHS
Greater Johnstown SD Greater Johnstown MS
Greater Nanticoke Area SD Greater Nanticoke Area SHS
Greensburg Salem SD Greensburg-Salem HS
Greenville Area SD Greenville JSHS
Hanover Area SD Hanover Area JSHS
Harrisburg City SD Foose Elementary
Harrisburg City SD Scott School
Hazleton Area SD Hazleton Area HS
Hazleton Area SD McAdoo-Kelayres El/MS
Hermitage SD Hickory HS
Highlands SD Highlands SHS
Imhotep Institute CHS Imhotep Institute CHS
Interboro SD Interboro SHS
Keystone Central SD Central Mountain HS
KIPP DuBois Charter School KIPP DuBois Charter School
KIPP Philadelphia Charter School KIPP Philadelphia Charter School
Kiski Area SD KISKI Area HS
Lakeland SD Lakeland JSHS
Lancaster SD McCaskey Campus
Lancaster SD Phoenix Academy
Laurel Highlands Laurel Highland SHS
Lebanon SD Lebanon SHS
Lehighton Area SD Leighton Area HS
Manheim Central SD Manheim Central SHS
Marion Center Area SD Marion Center Area Jr/Sr HS
McKeesport Area SD McKeesport Area SHS
Mechanicsburg Area SD Mechanicsburg Area SHS
Mid Valley SD Mid Valley Secondary Center
Midd-West SD Midd-West HS
Minersville Area SD Minersville Area El Ctr
Monessen City SD Monessen El Ctr
Muhlenberg SD Muhlenberg MS
New Castle Area SD New Castle JHS
New Kensington-Arnold SD Valley JSHS
Norristown Area SD Norristown Area HS
Norristown Area SD Roosevelt Alternative School
Northern Lebanon SD Northern Lebanon SHS
Northern Tioga SD Williamson SHS
Northgate SD Northgate MSHS
Northhampton Area SD Northhampton Area HS
Octorara Area SD Octorara Area JSHS
Oxford Area SD Oxford Area HS
Oxford Area SD Penn’s Grove School
Panther Valley SD Panther Valley ES
Panther Valley SD Panther Valley JSHS
Pen Argyl Area SD Pen Argyl Area HS
Penn Hills SD Penn Hills SHS
Penn-Delco SD Sun Valley HS
Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School
Philadelphia City SD Anderson Add B Sch
Philadelphia City SD Emlen Eleanor C Sch
Philadelphia City SD Franklin S Edmonds Sch
Philadelphia City SD Harding Warren G MS
Philadelphia City SD Juniata Park Academy
Philadelphia City SD Mayfair School
Philadelphia City SD Motivation HS
Philadelphia City SD Northeast HS
Philadelphia City SD Penn Treaty School
Philadelphia City SD Penrose School
Philadelphia City SD Richmond School
Philadelphia City SD Roosevelt Theodore MS
Philadelphia City SD Saul W B Agricultural School
Philadelphia City SD Spring Garden School
Philadelphia City SD Sullivan James J School
Philadelphia City SD Swenson Arts & Technology HS
Philadelphia City SD Ziegler William H School
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Allderdice HS
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Brashear HS
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Faison K-5
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Obama 6-12
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Perry HS
Pittsburgh SD Pittsburgh Roosevelt K-5
Pittson Area SD Pittston Area SHS
Pocono Mountain SD Pocono Mountain East HS
Pocono Mountain SD Pocono Mountain West JHS
Pocono Mountain SD Pocono MountainWest HS
Pocono Mountain SD Swiftwater El Ctr
Portage Area SD Portage Area JSHS
Pottsgrove SD Pottsgrove SHS
Pottstown SD Pottstown MS
Pottsville Area SD Lengel MS
Propel CS – Braddock Hills Propel CS – Braddock Hills
Reading SD Reading SHS
Red Lion Area SD Red Lion Area SHS
Ringgold SD Ringgold SHS
Scranton SD Isaac Tripp ES
Scranton SD Scranton HS
Scranton SD West Scranton HS
Scranton SD West Scranton Intermediate School
Shamokin Area SD Shamokin Area Intermediate School
Sharon City SD Sharon MS
Shenandoah Valley SD Shenandoah Valley JSHS
Shikellamy SD Shikellamy HS
Shippensburg Area SD James Burd ES
Solanco SD Solanco HS
South Allegheny SD South Allegheny MS/HS
Southeast Delco SD Academy Park HS
Southern Huntingdon County SD Southern Huntingdon Co HS/MS
Steel Valley SD Steel Valley MS
Steel Valley SD Steel Valley SHS
Sto-Rox SD Sto-Rox JSHS
Stroudsburg Area SD Stroudsburg JHS
Sugar Valley Rural CS Sugar Valley Rural CS
Tamaqua Area SD Tamaqua Area SHS
Tulpehocken Area SD Tulpehocken JSHS
Tunkhannock Area SD Tunkhannock HS
Turkeyfoot Valley Area SD Turkeyfoot Valley Area JSHS
Uniontown Area SD Lafayette MS
Uniontown Area SD Uniontown Area SHS
Universal Audenried Charter School Universal Audenried Charter School
Upper Darby SD Beverly Hills MS
Upper Darby SD Charles Kelly El Sch
Urban Pathways 6-12 CS Urban Pathways 6-12 CS
Wallenpaupack Area SD Wallenpaupack Area HS
Washington SD Washington HS
Washington SD Washington Junior High School
Waynesboro Area SD Waynesboro Area SHS
West Branch Area SD West Branch Area JSHS
West Mifflin Area SD West Mifflin Area HS
West Mifflin Area SD West Mifflin Area MS
West Perry SD West Perry SHS
West Phila. Achievement CES West Phila. Achievement CES
West Side CTC West Side CTC
Whitehall-Coplay SD Whitehall HS
Wilkes-Barre Area SD Dodson ES
Wilkes-Barre Area SD Elmer L Meyers JSHS
Wilkes-Barre Area SD James M Coughlin JSHS
Wilkes-Barre Area SD Solomon/Plains JHS
William Penn SD Penn Wood HS
Woodland Hills SD Wilkins ES
Woodland Hills SD Woodland Hills JSHS
Wyoming Area SD Wyoming Area Sec Ctr
Wyoming Valley West SD Wyoming Valley West SHS
York City SD William Penn SHS

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