Valley High School (New Kensington, Pennsylvania)

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Valley Jr/Sr High School
703 Stevenson Boulevard
New Kensington, PA 15068 Coordinates: 40°34′01″N 79°45′21″W / 40.566812°N 79.755775°W / 40.566812; -79.755775

United States United States
Type Public
Motto Valley Pride
School district New Kensington–Arnold School District
Principal Jon Banko, Jeffery Thimons
Faculty 35 teachers in 2012
Grades 7-12
Enrollment 652 pupils 2012[1]
790 as of 2005 [2]
Color(s) Black and Gold
Athletics conference WPIAL(PIAA District 7)
Mascot The Viking

Valley High School is a public school in New Kensington, Westmoreland County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 652 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 344 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[3] Valley High School is a federal Title I school. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 61 courses are taught by teachers who are rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[4]

Demographics of student body[edit]

As of 2006.[2]

Subset Number of students Percent
All 790 100%
White 572 71.4%
African American 201 26.1%
Asian 4 0.5%
Hispanic 8 1.00%
Multiracial 0 0%
American Indian 5 0.6%
Male 381 48.2%
Female 409 51.8%

Academic ranking[edit]

In 2013, Valley High School's 11th grade ranked 63rd out of 104 western Pennsylvania high schools based on the last three years of student academic achievement in Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) in: reading, math, writing and science.[5] (Ranking includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County) In 2012, Valley High School ranked 86th out of 104 Western Pennsylvania public high schools.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, New Kensington-Arnold School District’s graduation rate was 80%.[6] In 2011, the graduation rate was 77%.[7] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Valley High School's rate was 53.75% for 2010.[8]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

AYP status[edit]

In 2012, Valley High School declined again to Corrective Action Level I AYP status. In 2011, Valley High School was in School Improvement Level II AYP status.[13] 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. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[14] Valley High School is eligible for extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for each year.[15]

  • 2010 - School Improvement Level I[16]
  • 2009 - School Improvement Level I
  • 2008 - Warning AYP status[17]

PSSA results history[edit]

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 61% on grade level, (23% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[18]
  • 2011 - 62% (22% below basic). State - 69.1% [19]
  • 2010 - 70% (14% below basic). State - 66% [20]
  • 2009 - 62% (24% below basic). State - 65% [21]
  • 2008 - 58% (28% below basic). State - 65% [22]
  • 2007 - 59% (21% below basic). State - 65% [23]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 52% on grade level (26% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[24]
  • 2011 - 55% (22% below basic). State - 60.3% [25]
  • 2010 - 68% (14% below basic). State - 59% [26]
  • 2009 - 43% (32% below basic). State - 56% [27]
  • 2008 - 47% (33% below basic). State - 56% [28]
  • 2007 - 54% (25% below basic). State - 53% [29]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 25% on grade level (30% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[30]
  • 2011 - 22% (31% below basic). State - 40% [31]
  • 2010 - 33% (24% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 30% (21% below basic). State - 40% [32]
  • 2008 - 28% (21% below basic). State - 39% [33]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 29% of the Valley 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.[34] 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.[35] 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]

Valley 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. The state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[36] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[37] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

For the 2009-10 funding year, Valley School District received a state grant of $10,897 for the program.[38]

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 104 New Kensington-Arnold School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 432. The Math average score was 444. The Writing average score was 416. 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, 88 New Kensington-Arnold School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 478. The Math average score was 482. The Writing average score was 453.[39] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[40] 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.[41]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The New Kensington-Arnold School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 24 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, English 4 years, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education and health 2.5 credits, Micro-Applications 0.5 credit and electives 6 credits. Students enrolled in Northern Westmoreland Career Center are exempt from Micro-Applications, and one (1) credit of Physical Education.[42] Students must earn 5.5 credits for promotion to 10th Grade. Students must earn 10.5 credits for promotion to 11th Grade. All students are required attend an exit interview prior to graduation.

By law, 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.[43][44] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[45]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[46][47][48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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.

AP courses[edit]

Valley High School offers several AP Courses where a successful student can earn college credits for the cost of the AP exams administered by the College Board. The amount of credits a student will be awarded is based on the score achieved on the end of course exam and is at the discretion of the individual college or university. Valley High School students have a low success rate on the annual AP exams 13% passing.[51] The AP courses offered are: AP Calculus AB, AP American History, AP English 11, AP English 12, AP Physics, AP Chemistry.

Alternative education[edit]

Valley High School has an alternative education program for students with behavioral issues, have been chronically truant or are expelled from the traditional school programs. Students work toward graduation under the supervision of a teacher using online OdysseyWare software.

Awards and recognition[edit]

Valley High School's Junior ROTC program was named an Honor Unit with Distinction in 2006 and 2009, scoring in the 96th percentile in an inspection held once every three years.[52]

In 1998, a team of students representing Valley High School tied for third place in an international Space Settlement Design contest sponsored by NASA, for their research project, entitled "Space Colonies, A Design Study." [53]

Ten Commandments Controversy[edit]

On March 20, 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter of complaint about a large granite monument with 10 Commandments predominantly displayed near the main entrance to the school, citing that the school is in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.[54]

On October 13, 2012, approximately 50 people attended a rally in support of keeping the monument at Valley High School.[55][56]

On September 14, 2012, the FFRF and four New Kensington residents filed suit against the school district seeking a declaration that the monument is unconstitutional, a permanent injunction directing its removal, nominal damages and costs and attorneys’ fees. The Judge, Terrance McVerry ruled on Dec. 19, 2012 allowing the plaintiffs the right to use pseudonyms. On Jan. 22, 2013 he denied the motion to dismiss, allowing the case to continue.[57]

On July 27, 2015, the District Court ruled that the Plaintiffs did not have standing.

On August 9, 2016 the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Plaintiff Marie Schaub had standing and remanded the case back to Judge Terrance McVerry to be heard on its merits. [58] On February 21, 2017, the lawsuit came to end when the school district agreed to remove the monument from in front of the school and for the school district, through their insurance company, to pay $163,500 in legal fees, including more than $40,000 to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. [59]. In accord with the agreement, the monument was removed on March 21, 2017.[60]


New Kensington-Arnold School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with the standards set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The District is a member of the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association). Valley High’s Girls Softball was a recipient of the National Spirit of Sport Award from the National Federation of State High School Association due to their positive response to a controversial call.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing 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.[61]


Sport Boys Girls
Baseball / Softball Class AAA Class AAA
Basketball Class AAA Class AAA
Cross Country Class AAA Class AA
Football Class AAA
Golf Class AAAA
Soccer Class AA Class AA
Swimming and Diving Class AA Class AA
Tennis Class AA (Team) Class AA
Track and Field Class AA Class AA
Volleyball Class AA
Wrestling Class AA

Vocational–technical education[edit]

Students in grades 10–12 may attend the Northern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center part-time, if elected.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ National Center for Education Statistics - Valley High School, 2012
  2. ^ a b "Valley High School Profile". Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  3. ^ National Center for Education Statistics, Common Care Data - Valley High School, 2011
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Professional Qualifications of Teachers Valley High School, September 21, 2012
  5. ^ The Rankings: Eleventh grade, Pittsburgh Business Times, April 4, 2013.
  6. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 21, 2012). "School District AYP Data Table 2012". 
  7. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "New Kensington-Arnold School District AYP Data Table". 
  8. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 15, 2011). "New 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation Now Being Implemented". 
  9. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, New Kensington-Arnold School District Academic Achievement Report Card Data table 2010, October 20, 2010
  10. ^ The Times-Tribune (June 27, 2010). "PA School District Statistical Snapshot Database 2008-09". 
  11. ^ The Times-Tribune (June 25, 2009). "County School Districts Graduation Rates 2008". 
  12. ^ Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (2008). "High School Graduation rate 2007" (PDF). 
  13. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, (September 21, 2012). "Valley High School AYP Overview 2012". 
  14. ^ US Department of Education, (2003). "NCLB Parental Notices" (PDF). 
  15. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 21, 2012). "School Improvement Grant". 
  16. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School AYP Overview 2010, October 20, 2010
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School AYP Overview 2008, August 14, 2008
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2012). "2011-2012 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  19. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "2010-2011 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  20. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "2009-2010 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  21. ^ The Times-Tribune (September 14, 2009). "Grading Our Schools database, 2009 PSSA results". 
  22. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (August 15, 2008). "2007-2008 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  23. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2007). "PSSA Math and Reading results". 
  24. ^ Pittsburgh Post Gazette (October 15, 2012). "How is your school doing?". 
  25. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2011, September 29, 2011
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010, October 20, 2010
  27. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2009, September 14, 2009
  28. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2008, August 15, 2008
  29. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card, 2007
  30. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 21, 2012). "Valley High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2012" (PDF). 
  31. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 29, 2011). "2010-2011 PSSA results in Science". 
  32. ^ The Times-Tribune (2009). "Grading Our Schools database, 2009 Science PSSA results". 
  33. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2008). "Report on PSSA Science results by school and grade 2008". 
  34. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 20, 2009). "Pennsylvania College Remediation Report,". 
  35. ^ National Center for Education Statistics, IPEDS Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 2008
  36. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Dual Enrollment Guidelines". 
  37. ^ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (March 2010). "Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement". 
  38. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "Pennsylvania Dual Enrollment Allocations to school districts for 2010-11". 
  39. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011). "Public School SAT Scores 2011". 
  40. ^ College Board (September 2011). "SAT Scores State By State - Pennsylvania". 
  41. ^ "While U.S. SAT scores dip across the board, N.J. test-takers hold steady". September 2011. 
  42. ^ New Kensington-Arnold School Board, New Kensington-Arnold School District graduation requirements, 2012
  43. ^ Pennsylvania State Board of Education. "Pennsylvania Code §4.24 (a) High school graduation requirements". 
  44. ^ Valley High School Administration (2011). "Graduation Project info". 
  45. ^ Pennsylvania State Board of Education, Proposed changes to Chapter 4, May 10, 2012
  46. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Keystone Exam Overview" (PDF). 
  47. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 2011). "Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Overview". 
  48. ^ Pennsylvania State Board of Education (2010). "Rules and Regulation Title 22 PA School Code CH. 4". 
  49. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, State Board of Education Finalizes Adoption of Pennsylvania Common Core State Academic Standards and High School Graduation Requirements, March 14, 2013
  50. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011). "Keystone Exams". 
  51. ^ US News and World Report, Valley High School Review, April 2013
  52. ^ "Valley News Dispatch article on the honor, hosted on Pittsburgh Tribune-Review web site". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review web site. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  53. ^ "1998 results from NASA Space settlement Contest". NASA. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  54. ^ "Atheists target display of Ten Commandments". Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release (November 10, 2005). "Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities". 

External links[edit]