Penn Hills High School

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Penn Hills High School
Address
309 Collins Drive
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15235
United States
Information
School district Penn Hills School District
Principal Eric Kostic[1][2]
Grades 9th through 12th
Enrollment 1,453 (2015)[3]
 • Grade 9 356 (2014)
 • Grade 10 399 (2014)
 • Grade 11 368 (2014)
 • Grade 12 330 (2014)
Feeder schools Linton Middle School
Website

Penn Hills High School is a public secondary school located in Penn Hills, east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. It is the sole high school operated by the Penn Hills School District. In 2015, enrollment was reported as 1,453 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 60.5% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 12.8% of pupils received special education services, while 6.6% of pupils were identified as gifted.[4] Penn Hills Senior High School employed 100 teachers.[5] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, Penn Hills Senior High School reported an enrollment of 1,445 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 736 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. In 2012, Penn Hills Senior High School employed 101.5 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[6] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 11 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[7] Penn Hills High School has experienced a 500 pupil decline in enrollment since 2006. The Pennsylvania Department of Education projects a continued loss of enrollment to 800 pupils in 2020.[8]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education reports enrollment was 1527 students in 2011, and the student-faculty ratio is 15:1.[9]

Building[edit]

The new $58 million Penn Hills High School building was opened on January 3, 2013. The school was designed by Architectural Innovations. There are two gymnasiums, with the main one seating 1,900. The auditorium has about 1,000 seats with state-of-the-art lighting and sound-systems. All classrooms include Promethean World interactive whiteboards. The building features large skylights that can be seen from both the top and bottom floors to promote natural lighting. The school's new HVAC system is expected to save 30 percent in energy costs.[10]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers funded a new $200,000 football field for the school.[11]

Graduation Rate[edit]

In 2015, the District’s graduation rate declined to 83.19%.[12]

  • 2014 - 83.24%[13]
  • 2013 - 83.57% [14]
  • 2012 - 82.20%.[15]
  • 2011 - 77.98%.[16]
  • 2010 - 82.20%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[17]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Academic achievement[edit]

Opportunity Scholarship - lowest achieving schools

In May 2015, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying that two Penn Hills School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in the state.[22] Included on the list were: Linton Middle School and Penn Hills HIgh School. They have been on the low achievement list since its inception in 2011. One hundred four (104) public school districts had one or more schools on the list. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[23] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[24] Fifty-three public schools in Allegheny County are among the lowest-achieving schools in 2011. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, nine public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list including: Steelton-Highspire School District, Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District, and William Penn School District.[25] In 2014, Monessen City School District had all three of its schools added to the list. Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

In April 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released a report identifying two Penn Hills School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in the state.[26] They were Linton Middle School and Penn Hills High School. For school years 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013–14 both schools were on the state's lowest achievement list.

2015 School Performance Profile

Penn Hills Senior High School achieved 64.5 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement.The PDE reported that 63% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, just 26.9% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 30.8% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[27] 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.[28][29]

2014 School Performance Profile

Penn HIlls Senior High School achieved 59.2 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 59% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 59% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 42% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[30][31] 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%.[32]

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.[33] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[34][35]

2013 School Performance Profile

Penn Hills Senior High School achieved 64.2 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 70% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 47.99% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 18.64% showed on grade level science understanding.[36] 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.[37]

AYP History[edit]

In 2012, Penn Hills Senior HIgh School declined to Corrective Action II 6th Year Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status due to low academic achievement and low graduation rates.[38]

  • 2011 - declined to Corrective Action II 5th Year AYP status due to chronic low student achievement.[39]
  • 2010 - declined to Corrective Action II 4th Year AYP status[40]
  • 2009 - declined to Corrective Action II 3rd Year AYP status [41]
  • 2008 - declined to Corrective Action II 2nd Year AYP status [42]
  • 2007 - declined to Corrective Action II first Year AYP status [43]
  • 2006 - declined to Corrective Action I Year AYP status [44] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[45] The Penn Hills Senior High School was eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[46]
  • 2005 - declined to School Improvement 2 AYP status [47]
  • 2004 - declined to School Improvement 1 AYP status [48] The administration was required to develop a school improvement plan that focus on raising student academic achievement and to submit the plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for review.
  • 2003 - declined to Warning AYP status due to low student academic achievement [49]

In 2009, the high school was identified as a turnaround school in the Race to the Top federal education grant program.

PSSA Results

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.[50] 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.[51]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 54% on grade level, (23% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[52]
  • 2011 - 54% (30% below basic). State - 69.1%[53]
  • 2010 - 61%, (21% below basic). State - 66%[54]
  • 2009 - 55%, State - 65%[55]
  • 2008 - 59%, State – 65%[56]
  • 2007 - 58%, State - 65.4%[57]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 39% on grade level (41% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[58]
  • 2011 - 44% (36% below basic). State - 60.3%[59]
  • 2010 - 52% (28% below basic). State - 59% [60]
  • 2009 - 41%, State - 56% [61]
  • 2008 - 43%, State – 56%[62]
  • 2007 - 38%, State – 53%[63]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 19% on grade level (35% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[64]
  • 2011 - 28% (39% below basic). State - 40%[65]
  • 2010 - 30% (26% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 24%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 27%, State – 39%
  • 2007 - Tested, state did not make results public

Penn Hills School District was ranked 464th out of the 498 ranked Pennsylvania School Districts in 2008 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance as demonstrated in three years of PSSA results.[66]

Courses[edit]

At Penn Hills Senior High School, students have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement course work and exams. The AP participation rate at Penn Hills Senior High School is 10 percent.[9] These courses include AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition, AP European History, AP United States History, AP Psychology, AP Calculus AB and BC, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP Spanish, AP French, AP German, and AP Studio Art.[67][non-primary source needed]

In 2015, Penn Hills High School offered 13 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. The fee for each AP Exam is $91 (2014).[68] 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. At Penn HIlls Senior High School 20% of the students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[69] In 2014, just 18% of pupils at Penn Hills High School who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the AP exam given by the College Board. In 2013, 19% of pupils at Penn Hills High School who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the AP exam.

The school also offers College in High School courses sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh where students are able to earn free college credits in Computer Programming and Statistics.[67]

Penn Hills Senior High School offers a variety of electives in journalism, theatre, creative writing, art, ceramics, economics, psychology, sociology, law, human anatomy and physiology, forensic science, interior design, cooking, home economics, accounting, entrepreneurship, and music. Music courses include Concert Band, Orchestra, Show Choir, Concert Choir, Mixed Choir, Piano Lab, Digital Recording, and Music Theory. The school also has a large technology department with courses in digital photography, robotics, CAD, Computer Programming, and Video Productions. Video Productions students use state-of-the-art technology to produce a daily morning announcements show, as well as film events at the school such as musicals, plays, and guest lectures. Students in the NJROTC program take Naval Science courses. Penn Hills High School also offers a Professional Experience Program, where select seniors are placed into on-site internships in their chosen career. For example, students interested in becoming obstetricians can shadow physicians at hospitals and view live births.[67]

Penn Hills High School also partners with Forbes Road East Career and Technical Center, and students are able to participate in a variety of technical programs. These students are able to graduate high school with certificates in fields such as cosmetology, culinary arts, child care services, HVAC, computer networking security, emergency response services, and automotive technology.[67]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 44% of Penn Hills School district 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.[70] 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.[71] 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.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a Dual Enrollment program. This state program permits high school juniors and seniors to take courses at the Community College of Allegheny County to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school, and continue to have full access to activities at their high school. The courses count towards earning a college degree. The school currently pays for one class per semester, including tuition, fees, and textbooks, and students may take additional classes at their own expense.[72] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[73]

For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $22,798 for the program.[74]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The Penn hIlls School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 25 credits to graduate, including: a required class every year in math,3 units English 4 units, social studies 4 units, science 3 units, arts and humanities 2 units, Physical Education/health 1 unit, technology 1 unit and electives 7 units.[75]

For nearly two decades, 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.[76] 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.[77]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2019,[78] 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.[79][80] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[81]

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.[82][83] 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.[84] 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.[85] 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.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, 172 Penn HIlls School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 443. The Math average score was 447. The Writing average score was 421.[86][87] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[88] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 181 Penn Hills School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 447. The Math average score was 454. The Writing average score was 416. 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.[89]

In 2012, 208 Penn Hills School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 450. The Math average score was 463. The Writing average score was 433. 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, 223 Penn HIlls School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 451. The Math average score was 460. The Writing average score was 424.[90] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[91] 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.[92]

School safety and bullying[edit]

Penn Hills School District administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the Penn Hills High School in 2015. However, there were five assaults and several sexual incidents involving students including a sexual assault. The local law enforcement was involved in twenty-seven incidents at the high school.[93][94] Each year the school safety data is reported by the district to the Safe School Center which then publishes the compiled reports online. Nationally, nearly 20% of pupils report being bullied at school.[95]

In 2016, Penn Hills High School's safety and culture climate drew national attention when a student was filmed assaulting a fellow student, who was disabled.[96] The video was posted online. The school safety issues are not new. In 2013, the administration reported 8 assaults on pupils, along with multiple sexual incidents involving students.[97] In 2011, the administration reported 6 assaults on pupils. No bullying incidents were reported.[98]

The Penn Hills School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[99] All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the District must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[100] The Center for Schools and Communities works in with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[101][102] According to the Center for Disease Control’s biannual national study of high school students in 2009, five percent of Pennsylvania students did not go to school for at least one day because they felt unsafe at school or on their way to or from school.[103]

Education standards relating to student safety and anti harassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[104]

School safety grants[edit]

Penn HIlls School District has not participated in the state's Safe Schools grants nor the Police in the Schools grants which fund programs.[105] Eligible schools and municipalities could apply for up to $60,000 for a school resource officer and up to $40,000 for a school police officer.[106]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The students have access to a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive sports.[107] Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).[108] The District is noncompliant with state law, due to failing to post its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its website.

Band

The Penn Hills Marching Band travels to football games and marches in a variety of parades throughout the year. Every year they return to Kennywood to perform, and take another trip out-of-state. Past band trips include Walt Disney World, Chicago, and Six Flags. The school also produces Gene Kelly Awards winning musicals[109] and two plays per year.

Clubs

Clubs at Penn Hills High School include the Library Assistants, Lab Assistants, Front Office Assistants, Athletic Office Assistants, Bible Club, Medical Careers Club, Key Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Yearbook Staff, PennPoints Newspaper Staff, French Club, Spanish Club, German Club, Games Club, National Honor Society, and Role Models. All freshmen students are matched with junior and senior Role Models to promote academic achievement, leadership, school spirit, and team-building skills. The school also sponsors teams for Calcusolve, Hometown High-Q, and Academic WorldQuest.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are 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.[110]

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.[111][112][113]

Sports[edit]

The teams are referred to as the Penn Hills Indians and Lady Indians, and the student cheering section is known as the Tribe.[114] Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[115]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[116][117]

The District funds:

Varsity

According to PIAA directory January 2016[118]

Notable alumni[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°28′03″N 79°49′02″W / 40.4674°N 79.8173°W / 40.4674; -79.8173