Hand Middle School

The entrance to Hand Middle School in School District of Lancaster.

- When: School board meeting, Oct. 15.

- What happened: During a State of the District presentation, Superintendent Damaris Rau reported the state has designated four district middle schools — Hand, Lincoln, Reynolds and Wheatland — as low performing.

- Background: The Comprehensive Support and Improvement designation applied to those four schools by the state Department of Education means they are performing in the lowest 5% of all schools receiving funding under Title 1, Part A. Schools with this designation are facing “the most significant challenges in academic achievement, student growth and other areas,” according to the department’s website. The designation can be made at least every three years under the Every Student Succeeds Act.

- Scoring explained: Student achievement is measured by those scoring at proficient or advanced levels on the standardized PSSA test, while student growth is measured by the Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System that looks at whether groups of students maintained, increased, or fell behind in their achievement as measured by the PSSA, said Adam Aurand, the district’s director of strategic communications, after the meeting.

- District data: Each of the low-performing middle schools had scores below 31.5% in math and English language arts achievement, below -1.0 in math and English language arts growth, and below 31.1% in English language proficiency. A score below -1.0 would indicate a school did not meet the state standard for academic growth, Aurand said. District scores were compiled using data from students during the 2016-17 and 2018-19 academic years.

- Improvement initiative: Hand, Lincoln, Reynolds and Wheatland middle schools will use Comprehensive Support and Improvement funding to hire a tiered support team leader for each school.

- College bound: Rau reported a 2018 graduation rate of 82.9% for McCaskey Campus students. Out of the graduated student body, 45% of former district students were attending postsecondary education within one year of graduation.  

- Discipline: The district has reduced out of school suspensions by 49.9% from 2013 to 2019, Rau said.

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