Our opinion:?A box score for schools

The initial scores are in, and, if you are looking for some trend, some pattern, some intelligence on the state of education in Warren County and using the new School Performance Profile for a conclusion, you may come away wanting.

The scores seem to be all over the spectrum, though none appear to be failing in the first round of the new grading system. No Warren County schools, including the Tidioute Community Charter School, are on the state Department of Education’s naughty list of 91 which will qualify for special help.

Still, there is a wide gap between Beaty-Warren Middle School’s 88-percent overall score out of 100 and Sheffield Elementary’s 58.6. A note here: This will be Sheffield Elementary’s one and only score in the program, since it has been merged with Allegheny Valley, and Sheffield students will ultimately be taught in a K-12 facility now known as Sheffield Area Middle-High School.

It’s difficult to imagine any scoring system for schools and grade segments in Warren County from which it would be easy to draw solid conclusions, since in virtually all cases they rely on small statistical samples. One “challenged” class of students or one “exceptional” class of students can wildly sway overall scores from year to year for a small school.

You might imagine that the “Good Class v. Bad Class” factor would become less noticable in an average taken over a number of years. But, long sampling periods bring their own variables into play, as curriculum changes and socio-economic factors come into play.

In other words, be thankful that none of our schools “failed,” but don’t read much into the difference of a couple percentage points separating one school from another.

This is all new stuff to our education system. It is not without its flaws; it lacks a history; and, for high school students, it relies heavily on the Keystone Exams, which are said to be far more difficult than the former litmus, the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams.