Pennsylvania's new school accountability system has hit enough bumps that the state is delaying the public release of the first results.
The release date has been moved from Monday to Friday of next week.
Even when the results come out, some data for some schools -- primarily high schools -- won't be included in the results because of questions about its accuracy. The state plans to issue a revised report for those schools in January after corrected data is available.
Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education, said, "The department has provided additional time to local education agencies to review their data to ensure it is accurate and to get accustomed to the new system."
Janet O'Rourke, director of secondary education in the Bethel Park School District, said, "It's going to be confusing to the public when we are releasing information from Bethel Park High School on Oct. 4 and then re-releasing it differently in January. I just wish we could get the correct data and release it correctly."
The state is developing a School Performance Profile for each school in Pennsylvania. This will include a single number which is the building level academic score. The score is built largely on student performance of state tests.
Given in 2012-13, the tests included in the profile are the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in math, reading, science and writing in grades 3-8 and the new Keystone Exams, designed as end-of-course exams in Algebra 1, literature and biology. The Keystones replaced the 11th-grade PSSA exams.
The test scores also are used to compute a measurement of growth under the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System, known as PVAAS. This growth measure can count for up to 40 percent of the points on the profile. In addition, the growth measure will become part of teacher evaluation this school year.
The problem that appears to be affecting many schools in Allegheny County concerns the Keystone Exams, not the PSSA tests. Because this was the first year for the Keystones, some students took the exams a year or more after they completed the course.
If a bubble on the test materials for each student was not filled in in a certain way, then the tests were not counted for value added purposes, thus leading to the questioned data.
The state Department of Education notified school districts on Monday that they had until 5 p.m. Wednesday to tell the department they wanted their value-added data for any schools excluded from their initial profile score. That deadline has been extended to Monday.
If the PVAAS data is excluded, there will be an opportunity to correct it and new profile scores will be released in January. Meanwhile, a profile score will be computed using the rest of the available data.
Linda Hippert, executive director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, said she had talked with officials of 15 to 20 districts and most were asking for their PVAAS data from the Keystones to be excluded.
She noted this would mostly affect high schools and perhaps some middle schools but not elementary schools.
For the value added data, she said school officials had to review their files from the state, checking each student one-by-one to see whether that student was coded as taking an end-of-course test.
If an error is found, she advises districts to ask the state to suppress that data.
In addition to Bethel Park, among the districts asking to have their value added data on the Keystones suppressed are Pittsburgh Public Schools, Avonworth, Carlynton, Clairton, Deer Lakes, Mt. Lebanon and South Allegheny.
Angela Cooper, testing and data coordinator in the Clairton School District, said Clairton decided to suppress their scores to make sure that whatever information is released is the accurate information.