Conestoga High School

Three Conestoga senior football players charged with sexual assault of freshman player – This is no rite of passage!

FootballA month ago, we learned that an extensive law enforcement investigation was underway at Conestoga High School after they got wind of hazing allegations. The investigation centered on ritual hazing by football players which occurred on the same day each week at the high school.  Apparently some of the students were aware of the hazing and would deliberately avoid the gym at certain times.

Today we learned from Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan that three 17-yr. old senior football players, including the team captain, at Conestoga High School have been charged with an October 15 hazing incident where they allegedly penetrated a younger player with a broomstick after he refused to help other underclassmen clean the team locker room while wearing just their underwear. Criminal charges were filed against the three juveniles for “assault, conspiracy, unlawful restraint, terroristic threats and other offenses.”

According to Hogan, the football team had a tradition called “No Gay Thursday” where all “gay” behavior was allowed.  Allegedly the team’s upperclassmen bullied the younger team members, often in sexually explicit or suggestive ways, during the weekly Thursday locker room hazing incidents.

The October 15 assault occurred after underclassmen were told to strip to their underwear and clean the high school locker room. The 14-year old victim stripped to his boxers but then reconsidered.  When the high school freshman tried to leave the locker room, he was held down by his attackers and abused sexually with a broom handle.  The prosecutor said that the three upperclassmen football players “will not face sexual assault charges because the law requires a motive of sexual gratification, which was not the case here.”  I suggest that the law needs to change … this was rape.

Although Hogan said that there is no evidence that the coaches were aware of the assault, Conestoga’s head football coach John Vogan was suspended from all coaching activities pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the TE School District.

District Superintendent Dr. Richard Gusick has sent a letter to the T/E families, which stated that administrators will conduct a “thorough school-based investigation to determine whether code of conduct violations occurred and the awareness and supervision of the coaching staff.”

Some may view school football hazing as a rite of passage – sexual assault with a broom handle is rape. Bottom line, the TE community needs to hold the District’s administration, staff and school board accountable and demand answers.  No one should be allowed to hide behind the curtain of “number one school district in the country”!

I suggest that the TE School Board members need to stop talking about school fencing and focus on what’s really important — sexual assault in the high school … the real safety risk to our children!

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TE School District discusses laptops for teachers and students in grades 7-12 (Initial Cost: $1.8 million)

laptop stackThe TE School District’s Education Committee meeting included a surprising (and expensive) item on the agenda – the proposal to outfit all teachers and grade 7-12 students with District issued laptops.

A few short weeks ago, the school board approved a preliminary budget which included a 4.3% tax increase. With that unanimous vote, the Board assured the residents that expenses would be thoroughly reviewed ‘line by line’ in the coming months. And then we learn this week that this same board is discussing spending an estimated $1.8 million on teacher and student laptops. Where’s the fiscal responsibility?

Setting aside the expense of the laptops, is there research indicating this is a current school district need?  Don’t the majority of the teachers and students in the District already have computers? If a need for a computer exists with any of the students, it certainly should be met but has anyone polled the students/parents? What level of laptops are proposed? My guess is that many of our students and teachers already own a higher quality of computers than the District is proposing.

And what about liability issues that could arise with giving our students computers? Remember the Lower Merion scandal and subsequent lawsuit over district-supplied computers and the webcam spying on students. How will TE parents know that their children are protected from something similar? No one wants to believe that these things could happen in TE, but has the school board thought about security measures to protect the privacy of the students.

Because I did not attend the Education Committee meeting, I wanted to know if other residents shared my concerns.  Resident Doug Anestad attended and provides the following update for Community Matters:

The administration would like to buy a laptop for every teacher and student in grades 7-12 in what is commonly called one-to-one laptop program. They would roll it out over a three years. Each laptop would cost about $400 and they would purchase a 4 year warranty and accidental damage protection for $200 for a total cost of $600.

The school district just finished rolling out bring your own device (BYOD). However, they argue that it is not ideal because
– No expectation that all students will have a device
– No expectation that all devices will be the same
– Transformative on individual level
– Supplemental devices needed if instruction requires device
– Focus on device over instruction

They argue that 1:1 would be beneficial because
– Expectation that all students will have a device
– Expectation that all devices will be the same
– Transformative on class level
– Supplemental devices not needed
– Focus on instruction over device

As each laptop will cost around $600 ($400 + $200) and there are almost 3,000 students and teachers in grades 7-12, you are talking of a roll-out cost of around $1.8 million ($600 x 3,000). After the initial roll-out, I estimate would be an ongoing cost of around $450,000 ($1.8 every 4 years). These costs do not include software nor administrative overhead costs.

I find it disappointing that the education committee voted to proceed with this project right after the school board voted to approve a preliminary budget that increases our taxes 4.3% while still showing a projected deficit of $468,118.

I was a teacher for a decade. I taught grades 7-12. I taught math, science, and computer science. With the obvious exception of computer science, I never felt the need for the students to have computers every day.

I believe that teachers should have smart boards and laptops and should have access to either laptop carts or computer labs on those days when computers would be helpful. I also support the Office 365 initiative as it allowed all students to have access to the same software so that documents can be exchanged with fellow students and teachers as well as allowing shared documents.

I cannot however, support this abuse of taxpayer money when there is so much financial uncertainty and after so many massive tax increases over the past decade that show no sign of slowing down.

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Police investigating ritual hazing involving Conestoga High School football team

FootballHearing reports on the news about Tredyffrin Township police and Chester County detectives investigating alleged hazing at Conestoga High School involving the school’s football team.

According to the report, teams of detectives are interviewing as many as 60 or 70 students about an alleged assault during hazing where one student was seriously injured.  The investigation is interviewing current football players and going back two years.

The report said that the investigation centers on ritual hazing by football players which occurred on the same day each week. Apparently some of the students were aware of the hazing going on and would deliberately avoided the high school gym at certain times.

The news report makes it sound like this was a routine weekly hazing … how is that no one knew what was going on? Where were the coaches, teachers, administrators?

All of this attention paid to fencing our schools for safety reasons but what about the safety of our children inside the schools?

Although at this point, the focus is on ‘alleged’ hazing, it’s hard to believe that Chester County DA Tom Hogan would have teams of detectives investigating if there wasn’t significant reason. According to the TE School District’s website, the District is not conducting their own investigation. From an administration standpoint, I would think that the District would want to conduct their own internal investigation and find out ‘who knew what and when’.

The following appears on the TE School District website:

Police Investigation into Alleged Hazing

We have been advised by Chester County law enforcement officials of a police investigation related to alleged hazing by Conestoga High School current and/or former football players. The District places the highest priority on student safety and, to that end, is cooperating in any way it can with law enforcement officials. As this is not currently a school district investigation, we are not in a position to answer any questions or provide more information at this time. However, if you or your child has any information pertinent to this matter, please contact the Chester County District Attorney’s Office or the Tredyffrin Township Police Department.

 

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US News releases ‘Best High Schools in America’ list but where’s Conestoga High School?

Conestoga High SchoolEach year the US News and World Report releases ‘Best High Schools in America’ list of the top 500 public high school in America.  More than 21,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Schools were awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college.

Anxious to see how our award-winning high school compared with others based on the 2015 US News ranking criteria, I was very disappointed.  When I searched for Conestoga High School on the US News website, instead of a ranking number, I found the following for our high school:

  • Medal Awarded: None
  • National Rank: Unranked

Why is Conestoga High School not on the Best High Schools in America list?  

For several years, I have reported on the US News rankings and Conestoga’s standing in the state and nationally.  In 2012, Conestoga was ranked #3 in Pennsylvania and #279 nationally.  For 2013, Conestoga  was ranked #5 in Pennsylvania and #313 nationally and for 2014, Conestoga was ranked #5 in Pennsylvania and #341 nationally.  Radnor, Great Valley, Lower Merion, Unionville Chadds Ford high schools are all on US News 2015 ranking list for the state and nationally – so what happened to Conestoga High School?

US News standings of the top 10 high schools nationally:

  1. School for the Talented and Gifted (Dallas, TX)
  2. BASIS Scottsdale (Scottsdale, AZ)
  3. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology (Alexandria, VA)
  4. Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science & Technology (Lawrenceville, GA)
  5. School of Science & Engineering Magnet (Dallas, TX)
  6. Carnegie Vanguard High School (Houston, TX)
  7. Academic Magnet High School (North Charleston, SC)
  8. University High School (Tolleson, AZ)
  9. Lamar Academy (McAllen, TX)
  10. Gilbert Classical Academy High School (Gilbert, AZ)

US News standings of the top 10 high schools in Pennsylvania:

  1. Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School (Philadelphia)
  2. New Hope-Solebury High School (New Hope)
  3. Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy (Erie)
  4. Upper St. Clair High School (Pittsburgh)
  5. Radnor High School (Radnor)
  6. Quaker Valley High School (Leetsdale)
  7. Great Valley High School (Malvern)
  8. Unionville High School (Kennett Square)
  9. Strath Haven High School (Wallingford)
  10. Mt. Lebanon High School (Pittsburgh)

There has been much discussion, including on Community Matters, in regards to the quality of our T/E school district.  Repeatedly, people have affirmed that the quality of our school district is helping to sustain our property values.  If that is correct, why shouldn’t TESD taxpayers expect the same ‘bragging rights’ as the other school districts?

Not that this answer will be OK for some of the District’s parents, but I think I know why Conestoga High School is not on US News Best High Schools in America list.  Similar to US News rankings, Newsweek does an annual ranking of the top 500 public high schools in America.  When Newsweek released their 2011 rankings Conestoga High School was not listed. As a result of questions on this topic, the District released a statement regarding Newsweek’s 2011 rankings, which read in part:

For the T/E community members who follow Newsweek magazine’s annual America’s Best High Schools story, you are aware that Conestoga High School (CHS) has been included in the list for the past several years, yet was absent from the list this year. Since the criteria Newsweek uses to determine rankings did not significantly change, we inquired about our status. We learned that Newsweek changed the way in which they collect data about high schools. Newsweek responded that they sent an email earlier in the year to all secondary schools requesting information. According to Newsweek, the email was sent to a CHS counselor. The counselor, however, reported that the email was not received. We subsequently sent our data to Newsweek, and were informed by the Newsweek staff that CHS would have ranked competitively based upon our students’ performance and Newsweek’s calculations.

In 2011, the local community was assured that the error would be corrected and that T/E would participate in the Newsweek high school survey going forward.  T/E has award-winning schools so there’s little doubt that Conestoga High School should have been on the 2015 rankings of best high schools.  So, I’m left wondering if the same thing happened four years later – was the District’s clerical error of 2011 repeated in 2015 and that US News did not receive the required ranking materials from TE School District?

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T/E Superintendent disputes Montgomery County DA report — Conestoga High School NOT involved in drug trafficking

Conestoga High SchoolIn the days since the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office announced the drug trafficking arrests, including the two ringleaders, Haverford School graduates, the story has become widely reported — from CNN to Good Morning America, there are articles and videos on the subject.

I’m certain that an expensive prep school such as the elite Haverford School (with upper school tuition approaching $35K) is in overdrive with damage control — much is at stake with current parents and the endowments of wealthy alum. With a tag line on their website of “Preparing Boys for Life”,  the Haverford School struggles to handle the PR nightmare.

Watching Good Morning America report on the story and the high schools (Lower Merion, Haverford School, Radnor, Harriton and Conestoga) and the colleges (Lafayette, Haverford and Gettysburg) was sad — and really eerie to the Conestoga High School logo flash on the TV screen along with the others.  But is all the information contained in the Montgomery County DA’s press release of April 21 accurate?   Apparently, not according to T/E Superintendent Dan Waters.

Waters has just released a T/E School District press release which disputes the report of the Montgomery County DA’s office.  Although Conestoga High School was named by the District Attorney in the list of Main Line high schools involved in the drug ring, Waters claims that the information is not correct.  According to Waters in the following press release, no students were identified or arrested from Conestoga High School in this recent drug trafficking incident.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to believe that Waters is correct and that no Conestoga students are involved but it seems strange that the DA’s office would just add Conestoga High School to the list of high schools involved — how does a District Attorney make that kind of mistake?   If Waters is correct and that the Montgomery County DA’s office erred in their report, shouldn’t the T/E School District board and administration demand a retraction?  Shouldn’t Conestoga High School be removed from the list?

Below is Dr. Waters response to the Montgomery County District Attorney April 21 press release —  you make your own judgement.  Coincidentally, the T/E Public Information Committee, chaired by T/E school board member Scott Dorsey, is holding their regularly monthly meeting tonight (6:30 PM, Administration building).  Although the agenda for tonight’s meeting was set before these recent drug arrests, there is certain to be discussion. At every school board meeting, president Kevin Buraks invites the public to attend committee meetings, stating that the ‘real’ work is done at the committee level.  With that in mind, I’m guessing that the Public Information committee meeting may have a ‘higher than normal’ attendance.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office press release reported on recent drug related arrests naming nearby high schools and colleges. The press release once again highlights the need for continued efforts to provide a safe learning environment for our students. I write to inform our community that we continue to be vigilant regarding the use of drugs and alcohol by our students within our community.

The safety of our students is paramount in our efforts to provide them with a safe learning environment. The District’s drug and alcohol practices and policies include prevention, deterrence and support for our students. The prevention strategies include classroom education efforts, schoolwide programs, student activities supporting healthy lifestyles and counseling programs. Deterrence efforts include random canine sniffs supported by the police and the enforcement of the drug and alcohol policy when applicable. Support for our students include individual counseling by our school counselors and mental health specialists. The Conestoga High School student support team, known as CARE, accepts referrals from students, parents and staff to assist students who may be in need of services. In addition, drug and alcohol counselors provided through COAD (Chester County Council on Addictive Diseases) are available to our students and families. Within the community, we have our on-going strong partnerships with ARCH (Area Residents Caring and Helping) and the police departments of both townships.

Recently, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office issued a press release which mentioned a drug distribution ring in local high schools and colleges. Although Conestoga High School was mentioned as one of the schools in the news report, at this time, according to the affidavits forwarded to me from the Montgomery County District Attorney, there were no sellers arrested or identified from Conestoga High School. We recognize that future arrest warrants may be issued by the District Attorney if the investigation continues. We are prepared to assist law enforcement officials when they request our involvement in investigations. What can we do as a community? As the police have directed us in the past, we are all encouraged to contact the police department with information concerning illegal drug activity in our community.

 Please contact the school principal, school counselor or me should you have any questions or concerns.

Dan Waters
Superintendent of Schools
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

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Suburban schools no longer a safe haven from illegal drugs

The use of drugs in suburbia is a growing epidemic – it’s not just on the streets anymore, it’s in suburban neighborhoods.  The drug epidemic has pulled cocaine and heroin out of the dark shadows of American cities and into our suburban schools.

Today’s drug bust headlines mark a sad day for many of the ‘best of the best’ main line high schools and colleges.We learned of the arrest of 11 people involved in ‘Main Line Take Over Project’, a drug trafficking ring.  Apparently two Haverford  School graduates, Neil K. Scott, 25, and Timothy C. Brooks, 18, were the drug operation kingpins and hired students at Conestoga, Harriton, Lower Merion, Haverford School and Radnor high schools and college students from Gettysburg, Lafayette and Haverford as their drug peddlers.

A press release this afternoon from Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman’s office contained the details of the drug ring.  A 4-month long investigation into the trafficking organization identified Brooks and Scott as the organization’s principal suppliers.  Scott was shipped bulk pounds of marijuana from a California supplier and the shipments were delivered to his Haverford apartment (the base of the operation), to his parents’ home in Paoli and to Brooks’ family home in Villanova. In addition to marijuana, Scott and Brooks sold cocaine, hash oil and ecstasy to the high school students and college students.

According to the police report, Scott had designed a business plan with sales incentives for his drug business:

Neil Scott encouraged college sub-dealers to locate new customers to offset his cost of driving to their campuses. Scott offered the sub-dealers incentives for locating new customers and making referrals. The incentives were lower prices for drugs and the opportunity to buy them on credit.

Text messages recovered during this investigation revealed that Neil Scott gave Timothy Brooks business advice on how to expand the sale of marijuana in local high schools. Brooks in return, supervised sub-dealers who sold marijuana at the local high schools. Brooks supplied them with marijuana and encouraged them to efficiently distribute drugs at their schools.

The high school sub-dealers were encouraged to sell at least one (1) pound of marijuana a week. Brooks encouraged his sub-dealers to meet their weekly quota. The incentives included a lower purchase price for marijuana in order to increase their profit margin. Brooks instructed the high school sub-dealers to make certain there was always a constant supply of marijuana in their assigned school. Brooks said this was important to him because he remembered not always being able to buy marijuana when he was in high school.

Multiple search warrants found drug trafficking evidence at 9 locations in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Northampton, Adams and Philadelphia counties plus the homes of Scott and Brooks.  According to the police report, the following items were seized:

  • Approximately 8 pounds of marijuana
  • Approximately 3 grams of hash oil;
  • Approximately 23 grams of cocaine;
  • Approximately 11 grams of MDMA; (Ecstasy)
  • $11,035.00 in U.S. Currency;
  • 1 loaded .223 caliber AR-15 Assault Rifle;
  • 1 loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol;
  • 1 .22 caliber AR-15 style rifle;
  • Additional .22 caliber, .223 caliber and 9mm ammunition;
  •  A 2007 Toyota 4 Runner sport utility vehicle;
  •  A 2009 Acura RDX sport utility vehicle;
  •  8 cellular phones;
  •  1 computer;
  •  Equipment and supplies used to manufacture butane hash oil;
  •  Numerous items of drug paraphernalia.

Last month we read in the Philadelphia Inquirer, that Chester County released theirheroin overdose statisticsand at that time District Attorney Tom Hogan commented, “Heroin does not discriminate.  It is a deadly drug that is abused by young and old, poor and rich, white and black.  Nobody is safe … There are students in every high school in Chester County who are using heroin, from Conestoga to Coatesville, from Unionville to Oxford.”

For decades, families moved from cities and into the suburbs in part because many believed that suburban schools provided a more wholesome environment.  Many believed that moving from the city to suburbia provided a certain way of life, one of tranquil, tree-lined streets, soccer leagues and better schools for their families.  Similarly, to my upbringing outside Washington, DC in a Maryland suburb, there are probably Main Line parents who thought that suburban public schools would provide their children with safe and more wholesome environment than their urban counterparts. Today’s drug arrest on the Main Line should provide a reality check for all.

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US News & World Report ranks Conestoga HS #5 in Pennsylvania and #313 in US

US News & World Report ranks Conestoga HS #5 in Pennsylvania and #313 in the US. The annual rankings of the country’s best high schools are out this week from US News & World Report. The rankings offer a snapshot of a school’s performance based on test data from 21,000 public high schools which represented 49 states (Nebraska did not present enough data to be considered) and the District of Columbia. Conestoga High School received gold level standing, listing a distinctive ranking of 313 of all public schools in the country. In Pennsylvania, US News listed Conestoga as #5.

The news outlet’s formula for determining their list of best high schools is a combination of school performance on state proficiency tests and how well they prepare students for college. A review of the individual states, had California leading the nation in 2013 rankings of best high schools with nearly 28 percent of its eligible high school receiving gold or silver levels. Maryland came in second with 25 percent receiving top designations and Connecticut third at 18.9 percent. To be eligible for a state ranking, a school must be awarded a national gold or silver medal. Pennsylvania has 570 school districts and 687 public high schools. In Pennsylvania, 168 high schools qualified for ‘best high school’ ranking by US News & World Report with either gold, silver or bronze medals. Nationally 500 schools earned gold medals, 1,790 were awarded silver and 2,515 took home bronze medals. Magnet and charter schools, which accept a limited number of students through a lottery or application process, accounted for 145 of the top 500 schools.

Here are the top 10 public high schools for 2013 as listed by US News & World Report:

#1 Julia R. Masterman, Philadelphia
#2 Lehigh Valley Academy Charter School, Bethlehem
#3 Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie
#4 Wyomissing Area Jr-Sr High School, Wyomissing
#5 Conestoga High School, Berwyn
#6 Central High School, Philadelphia
#7 Upper St. Clair High School, Pittsburgh
#8 Radnor High School
#9 Lower Moreland High School, Huntingdon Valley
#10 Unionville High School, Kennett Square

Last year on Community Matters, I provided the top 10 high schools in Pennsylvania for 2012, listed below:

:#1 Julia R. Masterman, Philadelphia
#2 Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie
#3 Conestoga High School, Berwyn
#4 Unionville High School, Kennett Square
#5 Wyomissing Area Jr-Sr High School, Wyomissing
#6 Radnor High School, Radnor
#7 New Hope-Solebury High School, New Hope
#8 Mt. Lebanon High School, Pittsburgh
#9 Upper St. Clair High School, Pittsburgh
#10 Central High School, Philadelphia

In reviewing the Pennsylvania ‘best high schools’, it is interesting to note that Conestoga High School as well as Radnor and Unionville high school dropped slightly in the US News rankings (Conestoga from #3 to #5, Radnor from #6 to #8 and Unionville from #4 to #10) yet Masterman, a magnet school in Philadelphia retained first place. Charter school Lehigh Valley Academy in Bethlehem did not make the 2012 top 10 best high schools but is #2 in the state on the 2013 list.  US News & World Report ranked Great Valley High School as #12 in 2012 but for 2013 the school has dropped to #21. Although Phoenixville High School was ranked as #25 in 2012, the school did not qualify for the 2013 rankings.

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$1.5 Million Budget Deficit … Will T/E Use Fund Balance in Lieu of Demotion or Increasing Class Size?

Click here to see the draft on the 2012-13 final budget of TESD to be presented at tonight’s school board meeting – 7:30 PM, TESD administration office, 940 West Valley Road, Suite 1700, Wayne.  Click here for the agenda.  Thanks to Community Matters reader Roberta Hotinski for providing the updated information and link from the District.

The draft budget reflects a proposed tax increase of 3.3%  …  1.7% from Act 1 Index ($1.5 million) and 1.6% from Act 1 Exceptions ($1,498,916).   Based on an average residential assessment of $252,601, the average  tax increase proposed by the budget is $155 to the taxpayer.

Applying the previously accepted strategies, the District’s budget deficit for 2012-13  is $1,547,888. Now here is the curious part … you will note on page 3 of the proposed final budget (see below) that next to the $1.5 million+ deficit are the words “Satisfied with Fund Balance Contribution”.  At both the last school board meeting and the finance committee meeting, when various residents asked school board members about using some of the $32 million fund balance for the budget shortfall, that option was quickly dismissed (with little discussion).  School board members were unwilling to discuss using the fund balance to bridge the budget gap but rather focused attention on the remaining strategies of (1) soliciting tax exempt property owners in lieu of taxes, (2) increasing class size and (3) demotion of professional staff for economic reasons.

For the record, page 7 of the proposed final budget continues to list strategies, N-14, Solicit Tax Exempt Property Owners in Lieu of Taxes, N-16, Demotion/Attrition of Professional Staff for Economic Reasons – $640,328 and N-19, Increase Class Size by One at Each Level – $607,500.  However, based on the proposed fund balance transfer listed on page 3 of the budget, it would appear that the school board might have changed their mind in regards to demotion and increased class size as budget strategies.

If I am interpreting the District budget proposal correctly in regards to the fund transfer, this could be good news for those supporting the District teachers most in risk of demotion.  Additionally, maybe this new information will begin to move the teacher contract negotiations forward towards a peaceful resolution. Here’s hoping!

 

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US News Ranks Conestoga High School #3 in Pennsylvania, #279 Nationwide!

Between the final tweaking of the District budget for 2012-13 and the continuing teacher contract negotiations, it is timely that the US News & World Report releases its list of the best high schools in America.  The publication reviewed test data from 22,000 public high schools and 500 schools received the highest ‘gold’ level award.  Conestoga High School received gold level standing, listing at a distinctive rank of 279 of all public high schools in the country.  The US News results indicate an impressive #3 ranking for Conestoga for all public schools in Pennsylvania.

There are 579 school districts in Pennsylvania and 752 high schools.  As part of the state’s graduation requirement, PA high school students take assessments in reading, writing, math, and science in the 11th grade.  US News Report uses the Pennsylvania Systems of School Assessment (PSSA) is used in the criteria for ranking the high schools.  Conestoga scored 54.3 on the college readiness index, based on AP (Advanced Placement) participation rate. The AP participation rate at Conestoga is 56%.

In 11th grade, Pennsylvania school students take Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests in reading, writing, math and science. Here’s the breakdown on the reading and math proficiency results  for Conestoga High School students:

PSSA Reading Proficiency results:
Total Students Tested      491
Below Basic:  2%
Basic:  5%
Proficient:  23%
Advanced:  70%
Results indicate 92% proficiency rate in reading.

PSSA Math Proficiency results:
Total Students Tested 478
Below Basic:  3%
Basic:  4%
Proficient:  20%
Advanced:  73%
Results indicate 93% proficiency rate in math.

Here the list of the top 10 high schools in Pennsylvania:

#1 Julia R. Masterman, Philadelphia
#2 Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy, Erie
#3 Conestoga High School, Berwyn
#4 Unionville High School, Kennett Square
#5 Wyomissing Area Jr-Sr High School, Wyomissing
#6 Radnor High School, Radnor
#7 New Hope-Solebury High School, New Hope
#8 Mt. Lebanon High School, Pittsburgh
#9 Upper St. Clair High School, Pittsburgh
#10 Central High School, Philadelphia

Interesting to note that 2 of the top 10 public high schools in the state are located in Philadelphia!

Locally, how did our neighboring high schools rank. Radnor High School made the top ten list in Pennsylvania at #6 and achieved a national rank of 432, qualify for gold level. Lower Merion High School received silver level nationwide, coming in at 835 and ranked #16 in the state.  Great Valley High School was listed at the silver level nationwide, at 725 and #12 in the state. Phoenixville High School, another silver level, ranked 1,094 nationwide and #25 in Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to Conestoga students, parents and teachers on this achievement!

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TESD Responds Officially to Absence of Conestoga HS on Newsweek’s Best High School List

The latest edition of the T/E News dated August 4 contains the following article explaining the absence of Conestoga High School on Newsweek’s best of the best high school list.  Contained in the article is a link to the annual publication, Conestoga Profile, which provide up-to-date statistical information on the high school students. 

The school calendar is included in the T/E News and I noted that grades 1-12 will start August 31 which is the week before Labor Day.  I thought that school didn’t usually start until the week after Labor Day — just curious, when did that date change?  Did the District change the calendar to accomodate possible snow days?

Newsweek Magazine’s List of Best High Schools 

For the T/E community members who follow Newsweek magazine’s annual America’s Best High Schools story, you are aware that Conestoga High School (CHS) has been included in the list for the past several years, yet was absent from the list this year. Since the criteria Newsweek uses to determine rankings did not significantly change, we inquired about our status. We learned that Newsweek changed the way in which they collect data about high schools. Newsweek responded that they sent an email earlier in the year to all secondary schools requesting information. According to Newsweek, the email was sent to a CHS counselor. The counselor, however, reported that the email was not received. We subsequently sent our data to Newsweek, and were informed by the Newsweek staff that CHS would have ranked competitively based upon our students’ performance and Newsweek’s calculations.

The T/E School District publishes an annual publication called the Conestoga Profile that spotlights the outstanding achievements of CHS students. The Conestoga Profile provides an overview of the school’s strong educational program and statistical information about our students’ academic performance.  

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