The Greater Johnstown School District has implemented a standardized test-preparation course for reading and math at every high school grade level.

Though a majority of scores in the district did not rise on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment,

11th-grade math scores increased from

28 percent of students being proficient or advanced last year to nearly 37 percent this year.

Schools Superintendent Barbara Parkins said the district implemented the PSSA course for all students because of a similar program that was already in place for ninth-graders.

“We saw there was an obvious problem in the high school-level scores,” she said. “We thought we would try to replicate what we have at the

9th-grade academy.”

Parkins said PSSA courses help to refresh all students on standardized testing strategies.

“It not only is remediation, it’s also helpful for those kids who score proficient for enrichment purposes,” she said.

The course offers nine weeks of remediation and focuses on problem-solving strategies.

William Brotz, a high school chemistry teacher, has been teaching the science component of the course to 10th-grade students.

“We’ve seen some improvement of the scores,” he said. “It is going to help them score better on the test.”

In 9th grade, students attend a seminar that focuses on similar test-taking strategies.

Sophomores focus on social studies and science during their PSSA course, and juniors learn math, reading and English strategies.

Parkins said the course also enables students who are taking the SAT to have additional preparation time.

“For students who have passed proficiency on the 11th-grade test, they are enrolled in the graduation project,” Parkins said.

Seniors also have the enrichment time; however, they can use that period to work on completion of their senior projects.

Another program is the Twilight program, which allows high school students who have dropped out of school to attend evening classes to finish courses.

Brotz has worked with Alan Johnson, the past high school principal, to organize the program.

Parkins said administrators evaluate the students’ past course work and allow students to study from 3 to

6 on school nights at a more aggressive speed in order to earn diplomas.

Colleen Freyvogel can be reached at 532-5055 or

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