Palmerton High School

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Palmerton Area High School
Map of Carbon County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
3525 Fireline Rd
Palmerton, Pennsylvania, Carbon County 18071
Type Public
School district Palmerton Area School District
Superintendent Mr Scot Engler (2014) Salary $111,000 first year[1] Contract January 1, 2014 to January 21, 2017[2]

Diane Serfass, Business Manager
Dan Heaney, Director Of Technology
Joseph Faenza, Director of District Facilities
Dan Heaney, Director of Curriculum & Instruction

Suzanne Rentschler, Director of Special Education
Principal Paula Husar, salary $94,191 (2015)[3]

451 pupils (2016)[4]
506 pupils (2015)[5]

531 (2013)[6]
 • Grade 9 153 (2014), 152 (2010)
 • Grade 10 96 (2014), 149 (2010)
 • Grade 11 114 (2014), 121 (2010)
 • Grade 12 151 (2014), 135 (2010)
Color(s) Blue and White         
Mascot Blue Bombers

Palmerton Area High School is a four-year public high school in Palmerton, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Palmerton Area High School is the sole high school operated by Palmerton Area School District. In 2016, enrollment had declined to 451 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 29% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to the family meeting the federal federal poverty level. Additionally, 11.9% of pupils received special education services, while 3% of pupils were identified as gifted.[7] The school employed 33 teachers.[8] Per the PA Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[9] The junior high and senior high share a single building. High school students may choose to attend the Carbon Career & Technical Institute for training in the construction and mechanical trades. The Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit IU21 provides the School with a wide variety of services like: specialized education for disabled students; state mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse; speech and visual disability services; criminal background check processing for prospective employees and professional development for staff and faculty.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, the school reported an enrollment of 506 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 127 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. In 2013, the School employed 33 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 15:1.[10] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[11]

The school colors are blue and white, and the athletic teams are the Blue Bombers. The first graduating class from the current school was that of 1966. The previous high school building is now occupied by the Stephen S. Palmer Elementary School.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2016, Palmerton Area HIgh School’s graduation rate was 97.35%.[12]

  • 2015 - 87.3%.[13] The nationwide graduation rate was 83%.[14]
  • 2014 - 95.3%[15]
  • 2013 - 95.1%[16]
  • 2012 - 90.63%.[17]
  • 2011 - 96.97%[18]
  • 2010 - 88.97% the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Area High School's rate was 97.8% for 2010.[19]


2016 School Performance Profile[edit]

SPP 84.2 out of 100 points Palmerton Area High School Keystone Exams mandated testing results were: 86.5% of students were on grade level in reading.literature and 73% of students demonstrated on grade level in Algebra I. In Biology I, 81% of pupils demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the Biology course.[20] The requirement that pupils pass the Keystone Exams in reading, algebra I and bIology I in order to graduate was postponed until 2019 by the Pennsylvania General Assembly because less than 60% of 12 grade pupils statewide would have been eligible for graduation from high school due to failing one or more Keystone Exams.[21] Fifty-four percent of the 2,676 public schools in Pennsylvania achieved a passing score of 70 or better.[22]

2015 School Performance Profile[edit]

Palmerton Area High School achieved out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. The PDE reported that 74.5% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, 62% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, just 56% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[23][24] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[25][26]

2014 School Performance Profile[edit]

Palmerton Area High School achieved 58.9 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, just 68.87% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 47% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, just 46% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[27][28] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[29]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,134 of 2,947 Pennsylvania public schools (72 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.[30] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[31][32]

2013 School Performance Profile[edit]

Palmerton Area High School achieved 74.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 78% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 58.8% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 32.6% showed on grade level science understanding.[33] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[34]

AYP History[edit]

In 2012, Palmerton Area High School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, due to missing all academic metrics measured.[35] Effective with Spring 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education discontinued administering the PSSA's to 11th graders.

  • 2011 - achieved AYP status.[36]
  • 2003 - 2010 - achieved AYP status each school year.[37]

PSSA results[edit]

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[38]

In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the applicable course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[39] The state announced the change in 2010 and made it in order to comply with Governor Edward G. Rendell's agreement to change to the national Common Core standards.[40]

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 73% on grade level, (12% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[41]
  • 2011 - 78% (9% below basic). State - 69.1%[42]
  • 2010 - 67% (17% below basic). State - 66%[43]
  • 2009 - 72% (12% below basic). State - 65%[44]
  • 2008 - 75% (14% below basic). State - 65%[45]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 52% on grade level (28% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[46]
  • 2011 - 66% (18% below basic). State - 60.3%[47]
  • 2010 - 52% (25% below basic). State - 59%[48]
  • 2009 - 55% (22% below basic). State - 56%[49]
  • 2008 - 57% (27% below basic). State - 56%[50]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 42% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[51]
  • 2011 - 40% (8% below basic). State - 40%[52]
  • 2010 - 39% (16% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 37% (8% below basic). State - 40%[53]
  • 2008 - 30% (15% below basic). State - 39%[54]
  • 2007 - students field tested. Results withheld from the public by PDE.

Science in Motion Palmerton Area High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[55] Cedar Crest College provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College Remediation Rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 28% of Palmerton Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[56][57] Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years.[58][59] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The Palmerton Area School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 29 credits to graduate, including: a required class every year in math, English, social studies, science, 3 Credits in Humanities (Art, PE, Health, Music & Elective), 2 Credits in Computer Technology and Physical Education and other electives. The high school is not one of 37 Pennsylvania public high schools that require students take a personal finance course in order to graduate in 2012.[60]

Since 1984, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[61] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[62] At Palmerton Area HS the Social Studies Department manages the mandated projects.[63] Students received 1 credit towards graduation for completion of a three-year career project.[64]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2019,[65] public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the respective Keystone Exams for each course.[66][67] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams have replaced the PSSAs for 11th grade.[68]

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Schools are mandated to provide targeted assistance to help the student be successful. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate.[69][70] For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[71] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[72] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP. School district superintendents have the discretion to graduate up to 10% of pupils who do not pass the exams or project.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2015, 76 Palmerton Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 488. The Math average score was 484. The Writing average score was 474.[73] The College Board also reported that statewide 96,826 pupils took the exams with average scores declining in all three measurers to: 495 in reading, 511 in math and 484 in writing.[74]

In 2014, 56 Palmerton Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 495. The Writing average score was 481.[75][76] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[77] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 71 Palmerton Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 490. The Math average score was 480. The Writing average score was 472. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[78]

In 2012, 108 Palmerton Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 532. The Math average score was 547. The Writing average score was 520. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 58 Palmerton Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 509. The Math average score was 484. The Writing average score was 477.[79] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[80] In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[81]

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[82]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2014, Palmerton Area High School offered 5 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. The fee for each AP Exam is $93 (2016).[83] The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. Students at Palmerton who take and pass the AP course receive 1.1 credit towards graduation. At Palmerton Area High School 8.93% of the students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[84]

In 2016, Palmerton offered 5 AP courses. Just 11% of the pupils who took an AP course at Palmerton Area High School earned a 3 or better on the AP exam at the end of the course.[85]

Dual enrollment[edit]

Palmerton Area High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[86] Under state rules, other students that reside in the district, who attend a private school, a charter school or are home schooled are eligible to participate in this program.[87] The state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[88] For the 2010-11 funding year, Palmerton Area High School received a state grant of $8,411 for the program.[89] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the state grants to students.

The Palmerton Area HIgh School dual enrollment program is proved in association with Lehigh Carbon Community College.[90] The nineteen courses are offered online. Students earn one high school credit towards graduation, for every three college credits earned.

Wellness policy[edit]

Palmerton Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[91] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[92]

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[93] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Palmerton Area HIgh School offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[94] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[95]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[96] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[97] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that Districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93. In 2015, federal reimbursement rates were: $3.07 per meal for students who are income-eligible for free lunches and $2.67 for those who qualify for a reduced price. School lunch participation nationally dropped from 31.6 million students in 2012 to 30.4 million in 2014, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Pennsylvania statistics show school lunch participation dropped by 86,950 students in the same two years, from 1,127,444 in 2012 to 1,040,494 in 2014.[98]

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[99][100]

The US Department of Agriculture requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[101][102]

Palmerton Area High School provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. A nurse is available in the building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[103][104] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[105]

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health made available to each Pennsylvania high school the overdose antidote drug naloxone in a nasal spray. School nurses were also provided with educational materials and training developed by the National Association of School Nurses.[106] The cost was covered by a grant from a private foundation.[107][108]


Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. The Palmerton Area School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08, it applied and received $208,799. The district received $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $254,212.[109][110] Among the public school districts in Carbon County, the highest award was given to Jim Thorpe Area School District which received $258,394. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Project 720[edit]

Project 720 was a high school reform program implemented for three years under the Rendell administration. The intent was to increase academic rigor and improve the instruction of teachers in the Commonwealth’s high schools. Teachers were expected to use data driven instructional practices and to meet the needs of diverse learners.[111] The 720 in the name referred to the number of days a student was in high school in ninth through 12th grades.[112] High schools applied for funding and were required to agree to report to the PDE their plans, their actions and the outcomes. In 2007-08 budget year, the Commonwealth provided $11 million in funding. Palmerton Area School District was one of 161 PA public school districts to apply, receiving $174,000 funding over three years.[113][114] For 2010-11, Project 720 funding was decreased to $1.7 million by Governor Edward Rendell. The grant program was discontinued effective with the 2011-12 state budget.[115]


Palmerton Area High School offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, publicly funded sports program.[116] Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The PIAA mandates that student athletes must be passing at least four full-credit subjects to participate in sports.[117]

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing in the school district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, a Pennsylvania public cyber charter school, charter school and those who are homeschooled, are all eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[118]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[119][120][121]


Palmerton Area High School competes in District XI tournaments, and is part of the Colonial League and PIAA (Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association). The school joined the Colonial League in 1994.

In 2015, the Palmerton Area School Board approved spending $2.3 million to add plastic turf grass and other amenities to the football field.[122]

Palmerton Area sports coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[123]

Palmerton Area School District provides its athletics disclosure form on its web site.[124] Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.[125]

The District funds:


According to PIAA directory July 2016[126]

Sports history

From 1977 to 1993, Palmerton was a member of the Centennial League, which also included Pocono Mountain, East Stroudsburg, Stroudsburg, Pleasant Valley, Lehighton, Northern Lehigh, Northwestern Lehigh, and Notre Dame (Green Pond). By 1993, increasingly large enrollments in the AAAA schools in the Poconos from Monroe County (Pocono Mountain, Pleasant Valley, Stroudsburg, and East Stroudsburg) had left the league uncompetitive and dominated by these larger schools. In 1994, these schools and Lehighton created a new league called the Mountain Valley Conference (MVC). Though in a different league, Lehighton has remained a geographical rival to Palmerton; the schools still compete with one another in most sports. In 2011 and 2012 the Palmerton School Board considered reducing its athletic programs to six sports for budgetary reasons. However, a parents' group raised more than $43,000 in an attempt to keep six Palmerton High sports teams from being eliminated.


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°48′43″N 75°36′27″W / 40.81208°N 75.60737°W / 40.81208; -75.60737