Students in the Nazareth Area School District topped their counterparts across the state in terms of being "proficient" or "advanced" in reading, math, science and writing, according to school test results released Thursday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education released the results of the 2011 Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA), administered in the spring, and for the six Nazareth schools the news was encouraging.
In math, of 2,459 students tested, 84.8 percent were considered "advanced" or "proficient" compared with state averages showing 77.1 percent "proficient" or "advanced," according to an analysis of the test scores.
For reading, while 73.5 percent of students in the state were found to be "proficient" or "advanced," 81.5 percent of the 2,432 NASD students tested were "advanced" or "proficient," again beating the state mark.
Writing -- a few percentage points higher than math -- is the subject where NASD students excelled the most. While 17.5 percent of NASD students scored as "advanced" in writing, 69.9 percent were considered "proficient." The state's results were 75 percent "proficient" and "advanced."
In the subject of science, 60.9 percent of students in the state were found to be "proficient" or "advanced," while 68.8 percent of the 1,097 NASD students tested were found to be "proficient" or "advanced."
More than 2.6 million tests were completed by students across the state. The state scores were relatively similar to last year.
As required by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, the PSSA is Pennsylvania's statewide standards-based assessment. The math and reading tests are given in grades 3 through 8 and 11th grade; the writing test is given in grades 5, 8 and 11, and the science test is given in grades 4, 8 and 11.
The goal is for all students to be "proficient" or "advanced" by 2014 -- meaning they have mastered Pennsylvania's assessment content standards at their grade level.
A school or district's performance on statewide math and reading assessments is the primary factor in determining Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), which is also required under NCLB. Student participation and attendance/graduation rate are also factors in making this determination.
Performance targets for AYP were 67 percent in math and 72 percent in reading.
All six of the NASD schools made Adequate Yearly Progress for the second year in a row.