Pa. Lt. Gov. Cawley recognizes 6 Perkiomen Valley schools

Pa. Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley talks to students, teachers and administrators during a visit at the Perkiomen Valley High School Thursday, January 30, 2014. Cawley was at the school to present the Governor’s Award for excellence in education for the Perkiomen Valley School District. (Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury)

GRATERFORD — Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley visited Perkiomen Valley High School Thursday to highlight test scores achieved by most of the district’s schools in the new School Performance Profile rating system.

“I’m honored to be with you but I’m more honored to be standing in one of the best school districts in the state,” Cawley told a group of students, teachers and principals gathered in Perkiomen Valley High School’s auditorium.

Perkiomen Valley School District is one of the districts Cawley is visiting to pass out banners signifying that School Performance Profiles scores were high enough to receive “the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics.”

Six of Perkiomen Valley’s schools received the award for going above a 90 on the 100 point evaluation scale.

School Performance Profiles are a system of grading every public school in the state based on a formula involving metrics like standardized tests, attendance rates, graduation rates and student proficiency. The evaluations, which replace the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards, were first released in early October.

Cawley told The Mercury that he and Gov. Tom Corbett have been happy with the roll-out of the new school grading system.

“So far, it’s been absolutely wonderful,” Cawley said. “It’s provided an opportunity for school districts all across the state to be recognized if, in fact, they did achieve that 90 percent or higher, and if they didn’t, it gives them an opportunity to focus on area where they can improve to make sure they are performing at a higher level for next year’s test.”

Profile scores in Perkiomen Valley were topped by Evergreen Elementary School, which put up a 99.3, followed by Skippack Elementary School with a 96.3, Perkiomen Valley High School, which scored 95.8, Schwenksville Elementary School with a 93.4, Middle School West scoring 93.2 and Middle School East with a 90.1.

“We in Pennsylvania have a great history when it comes to education. Here at Perkiomen (Valley), you’ve added another page,” Cawley said.

District Superintendent Clifford Rogers thanked everyone who made such high scores possible.

“It required a lot of hard, dedicated work by a team of students, parents, teachers, administrators, all kinds of support staff and, of course, our school board,” Rogers said. “On behalf of everyone who makes up the teams of Evergreen, Skippack, Perkiomen Valley High School, Schwenksville and Middle Schools East and West, our principals will accept a banner noting the school’s achievements.”

“The governor and I realize it is a team effort,” said Cawley.

He characterized the school performance profile, which factors partially into individual teacher and administrator evaluations, as a way to recognize the good educators throughout the state.

South Elementary School was the only school in the district which did not reach 90, but Rogers isn’t concerned. Rather, he’s proud of efforts being made there.

“I have no question (that) South will make it (to 90). That’s not even a question,” Rogers said. “They were just recognized at the state’s Title I conference in Pittsburgh for fabulous work with children in disadvantaged families.”

The school scored a respectable 81.8, according to PASchoolPerformance.org, with South’s math and science/biology proficiency ratings both above 90.

Rogers said the school has a certain percentage of “disadvantaged families” that qualifies it for Title I.

Michelle Cinciripino said the state’s Department of Education Division of Federal Programs recognized South as achieving in the top 5 percent of schools that qualify for Title I in Pennsylvania.

“We’re making it next year,” Cinciripino said resolutely.

When asked if there might be any changes to the School Performance Profile system or its formula, Cawley said he and the governor are continuing talks with Acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq to evaluate it.

“We’re in constant conversation with her about how we could make a great program even better,” Cawley said, declining to discuss any specifics Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Cawley took part in a similar ceremony for the Central Bucks School District.

A graduate of then-Bishop Egan High School in Bucks County, Cawley expressed pride in visiting his native region of Pennsylvania for such academic achievement.

“I love it. As I said, I’m home,” Cawley said. “I’m home here and I was very flattered that I got picked to do this, I kid with everybody that the governor and I flipped a coin and I won. So I was able to come home and recognize some really great school districts. It’s an added benefit. It’s very special for me.”

Rogers’ smile was unwavering Thursday as most of his district received recognition.

“It’s the definition of pride,” said Rogers. “All those people I mentioned today? They’re single-minded. They’re focused. And we’ve got great kids, great parents and great families.”

Check out the scores of any school at PASchoolPerformanceProfile.org.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.

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