Once again it seems as if our summer passed in record speed and we will soon be welcoming 1600 students back to school for the 2015-2016 school year. I hope your summer was pleasant and your children are anxiously awaiting the start of a new year. Although there are changes every year, there are also many things that do not. One thing that does not change is the commitment of our staff and community to provide our students the best possible educational experience. We are all proud of the strong tradition of excellence that the East Lycoming School District has long been recognized for.
This year we will be ushering many new initiatives into our district. On the elementary and junior high level we will be updating our math programs. This change will assist in aligning our curriculum to the rigor and problem solving skills necessary in the 21st Century. Our High School Social Studies department will be implementing new digital textbooks. We are confident that this change will help our students adjust to the requirement of digital texts in many colleges and universities. Finally, also on the Junior High level, we will also be updating our English Language Arts program. Our staff has spent a great deal of time reviewing options and selecting programs to meet the needs of our students. Their persistence and diligence is certainly appreciated.
With the rising cost of college, we are excited to be able to share that we have once again expanded the offering in our Dual Enrollment Program. Students will be able to choose from an enhanced list of “face to face” college courses as well as almost limitless online options. These courses will be available at a fraction of the cost of traditional college tuition. We are confident that this option will help to make college more affordable for our graduates and to reduce the spiraling debt that most students face when they graduate from college.
We are proud of the relationship that our district has established with the East Lycoming Education Foundation and we are looking forward to continuing this great partnership. Last year, over $12,000 of new scholarships were awarded through the foundation to our 2015 graduates and approximately $3000.00 was awarded in grants to our staff members to incorporate innovative teaching techniques into our classrooms. We are grateful for their support.
A challenge that we will face this year will be the continued alignment of state assessment to district curriculum. Last spring our students participated in the PSSA, which was aligned to the Pennsylvania Core Standards for the first time. Initial reports from the state indicate that this change has had dramatic effects on the results of the assessment. In fact, in some grades, the percentage of students that passed the test dropped to 29% and the percentage of students that scored in the lowest possible range, Below Basic, grew to almost 40%. In many grades, the number of students that passed the state assessment dropped by fifty percent. Certainly a new assessment, which creates such drastic reductions in passing rates, needs to be reviewed and reevaluated.
Please set time aside in your schedule to come and watch our students perform in any of a large number of concerts or performances, watch our student athletes compete or simply take a walk through our beautiful campus. There is much to be proud of in the East Lycoming School District. And we are.I look forward to seeing everyone
Michael D. Pawlik