By John Chambless

Staff Writer

The academic news from the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District continues to be good, according to the Annual District Achievement Report that was announced on Nov. 18 and posted online on Nov. 22.

Assistant superintendent Ken Batchelor, along with John Nolen, the director of curriculum and instruction, summarized the report at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School Board. The report did not include middle school and high school scores, which will be announced in January.

The new evaluation standard for elementary and secondary schools is called the School Performance Profile, and it replaces the Adequate Yearly Progress goals set by the U.S. Department of Education. It's based on test participation rate, graduation and attendance rates, closing the achievement gap for all students, and closing the achievement gap for underperforming students. Under the new standards, based on the percentage of students testing at the proficient or advanced level, Chadds Ford Elementary and Hillendale Elementary scored 87.3 percent, while Pocopson Elementary School scored 87.6 percent and Unionville Elementary scored 95.3 percent.

PSSA test results were also strong across the four schools, especially when compared to overall state results. In the third grade, students testing proficient or advanced in math and reading came in at 97 percent, as opposed to 77 percent statewide. At Hillendale Elementary, 100 percent of third graders were reading at the proficient level. 

In the fourth grade, the lowest score was 77 percent proficient in reading at Chadds Ford Elementary School, which Nolen called “a cause for concern,” but he added that a new, more rigorous reading curriculum being adopted next year should bring that score up. 

Among fourth graders across the district, the scores were 97 percent in math, 88 percent in reading and 95 percent in science. State scores, meanwhile, were 78 percent in math, 67 percent in reading and 78 percent in science.

For fifth graders across the district, scores were 94 percent in math (69 percent at the state level), 89 percent in reading (61 percent at the state level) and 92 percent in writing (63 percent at the state level).

“We're generally very pleased,” Nolen said. “Overall, these are very strong scores.”

Among sixth graders, the score was 93 percent in math (74 percent at the state level), and 87 percent in reading (65 percent at the state level).

Seventh graders scored 91 percent proficient in math (77 percent at the state level), and 95 percent in reading (70 percent at the state level). Eighth graders scored 95 percent in math (74 percent at the state level), and 98 percent in reading (76 percent at the state level). Eighth graders tested in science were 93 percent proficient (60 percent at the state level), and 91 percent proficient in writing (73 percent at the state level).

At the high school level, SAT scores were also strong in 2013, totaling 1,731 at Unionville High School, as opposed to 1,480 statewide and 1,498 across the nation.

There were 925 students envolled in AP classes at Unionville High School in 2013, and 714 AP exams were administered. Of those who took the tests, 92.5 percent scored a three or higher.  “That's a really extraordinary statistic,” Batchelor said. The average AP test score was 4.07 out of 5, “which is quite impressive,” he added.

The high school had 13 National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists, and 21 commended students, proof of “sustained excellence over the past three to four years,” said school district superintendent John Sanville. The trend for semi-finalists was very strong, with three students in 2011 and 13 in 2014. Commended students ranged from 23 in 2011 to 21 in 2014. The report also noted that 95 percent of students in the class of 2013 were going on to college. 

The list of other student achievements noted in the report included a finalist in the Intel International Science Talent Search, three students competing at the nationals for the Future Business Leaders of America, five students in the All Eastern Choir of the National Association for Music Education, a State Player of the Year Award for the Girls' Cross-Country team, two students at the national speech and debate team nationals, nine fall sports teams in the District 1 Playoffs, two fall sports teams in the State Playoffs, and a first-place finish in the state for the Girls' Cross-Country team.