Bethlehem Press

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Board, administrators laud students

Tuesday, November 5, 2019 by Chris Haring Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

District principals were at the center of the Oct. 22 board meeting with their annual performance data presentation, compiling year-over-year achievement results from such sources as Pennsylvania’s Future Ready index, PSSA and Keystone exams, PSATs and Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

Each school’s respective principal reported on the overall successes and challenges of their student bodies, by individual subject as well as cumulatively.

Elementary school Principal Cindy Motter said she was pleased with the progress she saw. “We’re pretty proud of what we did this year for ELA (English and Language Arts) and bringing up our proficiency score,” she said. “We did this through professional development, working with our teachers and working with our literacy coaches… I have to give credit to our teachers and our literacy coaches; they did a phenomenal job.”

Middle school Principal James Deegan was next, highlighting the strides made in mathematics, among other subjects. He said, regarding the Keystone Algebra 1 results, “last year we gave the Algebra 1 to 64 students… all (students) had achieved 100 percent proficiency.”

Lastly, high school Principal Tamara Gary said she was very happy, particularly with the growth and success of the Advanced Placement programs. She noted that in biology, for example, even though the scores saw a dip from the prior year, “last year, we were the highest biology score in the Lehigh Valley, so, you know, it’s hard to keep up with that, but they still did an outstanding job.” Regarding the AP scores, she noted that the number of AP exam takers in the high school has seen a jump from just 40 in 2015 to 119 in 2019. “Of those 119 students who tested, 107 of them got a 3-plus…,” indicating exceptionally high achievement. In 2015, there were two AP “Scholars with Honor or Distinction” at the school, compared with 40 in 2019.

Also discussed at the meeting were changes and revisions in the district policy handbook, most notably regarding term limits for officers of the board. It was not previously noted in the policy that terms were specifically for one year, with a limit of two consecutive terms.

Board member Michael Karabin recommended adding language for flexibility regarding the board’s discretion to circumvent term limits in special circumstances, as solicitor Mark Fitzgerald affirmed that there is nothing in state law that specifically refers to term limits for officers. The board approved the language changes unanimously.