Working to boost test scores at Lehigh Valley school

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

They may not have a drill sergeant screaming in their faces but, make no mistake, a group of Southern Lehigh High School students are in boot camp.

The mission for these high school juniors is to ace the upcoming Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests, better known as the PSSAs.

Southern Lehigh Principal Christine Siegfried says their motivation, quite simply, is higher expectations from the state.

"The benchmarks for the PSSA tests this year jumped a considerable amount: nine percent for our students in reading, and 11 percent in math," Siegfried told Action News.

Siegfried said the idea actually came from nearby Catasauqua, where the district held a PSSA Boot Camp last year for a smaller group of students who needed some extra help to score well.

Southern Lehigh took it a step further and enrolled the entire junior class.

The program focuses less on PSSA content, and more on how the test is structured and graded.

"If the students understand how the test is scored, how someone else from the outside looks at their responses," said math teacher Ryan Haupt, "they can do better and understand the test better and therefore score better."

These young people say they were surprised. They admit they did not expect PSSA Boot Camp to be as helpful as it's turned out to be.

"I'm doing so much better this year than I've done any other year in math," said 16-year-old Natalie Costa.

"My goal is to be proficient on the PSSAs - I mean to advance, ADVANCE," said Southern Lehigh junior Daulton Romanoi.

So how effective is Southern Lehigh's PSSA Boot Camp? We'll find out soon enough. Testing begins on Tuesday. The results will be in by the end of the summer.

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pennsylvania, school, education, lehigh county, local/state, walter perez
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