January 2019 Newsletter

News from the Superintendent …

Happy New Year! I sincerely hope every one of you was able to enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday season! In a further attempt to keep the students of the Commonwealth as safe as possible, the state will be implementing the Safe2Say Something program, as required by Act 44 of 2018, in the very near future. This program, which goes live on January 14th, is a program that allows parents, students and community members to make anonymous tips related to behaviors that could be life-threatening, violations of law, or other issues that are of concern. Tips can be made through a phone application, phone call or website. Once entered, the tip will be sent to the appropriate county dispatch unit. The dispatch unit will contact both the police and the school district to support a coordinated effort in evaluating the tip, determining a plan of action, and carrying out that plan most efficiently and effectively possible. The tip hotline is 1-844-SAF2SAY, and the phone application is SAFE2SAY SOMETHING.

Susquehanna Community students will receive training on the new program in late January or early February. Hopefully, all will understand the purpose of the system and avoid making any false tips. Parents and guardians of school students are advised that based upon the nature of a tip received, police or school district officials may be contacting you to share information with you or to gather more information from you. The hotline, phone application, and website are open 24 hours a day and based upon the nature of the tip, and an action may be taken immediately by police or school district officials. The focus of the program is to save lives by allowing for the fastest possible response time to tips. While the tip hotline will address both emergency and non-emergency situations, it is not a substitute for dialing 911 for an immediate emergency.

News from the High School Principal …

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has made it clear to schools across the state that students must be career and college ready by graduation. The Academic Standards for Career Education and Work divide experiences into four distinct categories. These categories focus on career awareness, career acquisition, career retention, and entrepreneurship.

Our students are being exposed to lessons within these four categories on a yearly basis. Starting as early as grade 7, each student meets one on one with a guidance counselor to craft their personalized career plan. This plan is a dynamic document that is updated yearly as the student evolves their interests and skill levels. All students in grade 7 received their career experiences in World Geography. As 8th graders, students spend a good portion of Family and Consumer Science working with budgets, job search reflections, and interest inventories. Freshmen and sophomores engage with the Career Education and Work Standards in Personal Economics and Intro to Business. English 11 helps to ensure our students are college and career ready by focusing on writing a letter of recommendation requests, comparing various colleges in essay form, and analyzing personal time management skills. As seniors, our students spend a bulk of their English 12 class preparing for the next year of their life. Students at Susquehanna are exceeding the mandated twenty pieces of career evidence required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

One of the most exciting aspects of ensuring our students are career and college ready revolves around job shadowing. Before graduation, each student is required to partake in three separate job shadowing experiences. Current seniors are required to complete all three experiences this year. Juniors and sophomores are encouraged to complete two before the start of senior year. Each experience must be at least three hours in length and are permitted to be scheduled during the school day. Mrs. Milos is the point of contact for students interested in starting their job shadow experiences.

News from the Elementary Principal…..

Just take a minute and imagine missing just one day of school a month for an entire school year. It does not seem so bad, but when you add it up, it amounts to ten days absent out of a total of 180 school days. That is a rate of 94%, which is right around the rate Susquehanna Elementary School students came to school in the 2017-2018 school year. This information is reported to the PA Department of Education through the Future Ready PA Index for federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act. Our attendance rate exceeds the state average by nearly 10% (94.7 compared to 85.4). Overall that is an excellent rate for a school, but there is room for improvement as attendance rates are good predictors of future success.

According to a 2011 California research study, 64% of students with good attendance in K5 and 1st grade scored proficient on their 3rd-grade Reading exam, whereas only 41% scored proficient for those students who were chronically absent in one of the years. A staggering 17% scored proficient if they were chronically absent both years. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of school days for any reason, whether excused or unexcused. Chronic absenteeism is a considerable concern nationally and even more so within low-income communities who are four times more likely to be absent. Susquehanna Community Elementary School’s attendance rate for economically disadvantaged is slightly lower than the overall rate (92.8 compared to 94.7). The statewide average was not available for this subcategory.

When analyzing the Reading proficiency at the end of 3rd grade for Susquehanna Community Elementary, 58.3% of students overall were proficient compared to 42.9% of those that were economically disadvantaged. More analysis will be taking place to determine the correlation between absenteeism, economically disadvantaged and Reading proficiency.

We will continue to work with families to stress the importance of attendance and offer support to help improve attendance for all students. In the winter months, we will be stressing the importance of dressing appropriately for the weather conditions, wearing coats, hats, and gloves and have policies in place for recess depending on the real feel temperatures. We have resources in place to provide for students in need. We will continue to push eating healthy and properly washing one's hands. If you need help improving your child’s attendance, we are here to work with you and develop a plan as our students are the future of our community.

News from the Supervisor of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment….

There will be new High School Graduation requirements for the class of 2022 and beyond. Act 158 of the Public School Code has established alternative pathways to graduation. There are now four options for graduation if students are not proficient on all three Keystone exams. A summary of the four options are as follows:

Option 1: Composite Score on Keystone Exams

The State Board of Education will approve a score in July of 2019 that students can meet when combining all three Keystone exam scores with the stipulation that at least one test score is proficient and the other two are at least necessary.

Option 2: Local Grade Requirements Plus Alternative Assessments, Courses and Programs and Acceptance to College

A student passes an identified Keystone exam course (Algebra 1, Biology or English 10) and meets one of the following criteria: attains a yet to be established score on the SAT, PSAT, ACT OR ASVAB; successfully completes a pre-apprenticeship program; or is accepted to an accredited 4-year nonprofit institution of higher education and possesses evidence of the ability to enroll in college-level, credit-bearing coursework.

Option 3: Local Grade Requirement Plus Additional CTE Evidence of Readiness

A student completes all Keystone-related classes and passes all of them as well as obtains an industry-based competency certification, such as the NOCTI or NIMS.

Option 4: Local Grade Requirements Plus Two Tiers of Additional Evidence of Readiness

A student completes all Keystone-related classes and passes them. Additionally, they must add three pieces of evidence that reflect readiness for meaningful postsecondary engagement consistent with the student’s goal and career plan.

One piece of Tier 1 evidence:

Attain an established score on SAT subject-specific test;
Acceptance of an institution of high learning;
Attain an industry based credential;
Successful completion of a dual enrollment course; or
Attain an established score on an AP or IB exam.

Two pieces of Tier 2 evidence:

Any additional Tier 1 item;
Satisfactory completion of service learning approved by an administrator;
Attainment of a Proficient or Advanced Keystone exam score;
A letter guaranteeing full-time employment;
A certificate of completion of an internship; or
Compliance of all NCAA core courses for college-bound athletes with min 2.0

The first students to be impacted by these new requirements are currently in grade 9. All students will meet with our guidance counselors to review these requirements thoroughly as we move forward with scheduling for the next school year.