2012-06-14 / Front Page

SF High Honored By “U.S. News”

Named “bronze medal school” for educational efforts
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

After receiving kudos over the years within the confines of Tuscarora Intermediate Unit #11 for its student academic achievement, Southern Fulton High School received some recognition last month on a national level. The facility was one of 137 high schools in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to be named a “bronze medal” school by the “U.S. News & World Report.”

In May the “U.S. News” released its list of “2012 Best High Schools,” which was obtained through a joint effort with American Institutes for Research (AIR), one of the largest behavioral and social science research organizations in the world. In compiling the comprehensive rankings, AIR reportedly used a methodology that entails two principles: all students, not just the college-bound, are served by the high school and the school is able to show it is educating its student body through various performance indicators.

“U.S. News” says a total of 21,776 public high schools, which also include charter and magnet facilities, were evaluated in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Data and testing scores from the 2009-10 school year were used. Of those schools evaluated, the top 4,877 highest-scoring schools in the nation were ranked by a gold, silver or bronze designation.

A further breakdown shows that in Pennsylvania, seven high schools were named gold winners. In addition, 49 were given the silver distinction and an additional 137, including Southern Fulton, were bronze medalists.

College readiness was not a factor in Southern Fulton receiving the honor, but its outstanding PSSA testing results were. In fact, “U.S. News” reported the district average in proficiency in the areas of math and reading was, respectively, 87 and 83 percent.

In addition, during the 2009-10 school year, student population at the high school was 414 in comparison to 28 teachers, leaving a student/teacher ratio of 15 to 1.

Excited about the national ranking, Southern Fulton School District Superintendent Kendra Trail linked the achievement to the “extremely dedicated and devoted staff.” Trail said the group genuinely cares about the students, which in turn affects the academic achievement of each child.

“The community also has parents who are supportive of their children and the school district. Both the elementary school and junior/senior high school staff frequently analyze student data to see where strengths and weaknesses are occurring and then adjust instruction to meet students needs,” Trail told the “News.”

“It takes everyone working together – parents, students, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, school board members, administrators, district officer personnel, teachers, paraprofessionals and school nurses – to achieve such recognition. I am extremely proud of the junior/senior high school staff for achieving such a great honor,” she added.

With PSSA testing standards requiring 100 percent proficiency from all students in 2014, Southern Fulton as well as all schools, will likely be increasing its educational efforts even more. Furthermore, with the state proposing the elimination of PSSA testing for 11thgrade students in order to move toward the implementation of the Keystone Exams, Trail stated the entire school district will be in “transition mode” as the changes trickle down from the state Department of Education.

“The staff will continue to work hard to meet individual needs even as we approach the 2014 deadline where 100 percent of students are to be proficient in reading and math,” she said.

The “U.S. News & World Report” last issued a “Best High Schools” report in December 2009. At the release of the then third annual review, Forbes Road Junior- Senior High School was among five schools located in the tri-state area to receive high marks. The high school was a bronze medal winner for outperforming state standards.

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