Armstrong Students Score High in Biology but Lower in English

photo by David Croyle

Armstrong Principal Michael Cominos said students around the Commonwealth only achieve 63% proficiency in Biology while his students achieved 82%.

Assessment scores for students at Armstrong Junior-Senior High School were presented to Armstrong School District directors in December.

Principal Michael Cominos said all of the students are overachieving in Biology and other eighth grade subjects.

“They’re gaining more than what the state describes as one year worth of growth,” he said.

In Biology, the state average proficiency is 63%; however, Armstrong students achieved 82%.

Although Cominos said seventh grade English/Language Arts (ELA) was lagging at 56% compared to the state’s average of 60%, but they are still showing growth.

“It’s not to say that our kids aren’t doing well; they’re just not doing as well as they may have done in the past. Prime example is a student who has scored below basic on one of their achievement tests. But if they continue to score below basic at about the same level, they’re showing growth. They’re continuing to grow from where they are from one year to the next.  We’re not happy where the red marks are, but we have had some change over in teachers and we’re continuing our training in those areas. In other areas, like the elementary schools, we’re right there or above all of our state averages. We’re not totally displeased, but we’re never happy until we get it done perfectly. We’re constantly looking how can we make this better for ourselves.”

Cominos agreed with other principals that attendance was a key goal.

“We’re looking at finding ways to improve attendance. We want to find out why are our students missing school, how can we get them to school, finding those root causes, then trying to eliminate them,” he said. “If kids aren’t coming to school, they’re not going to be successful. You can see it plain and simply in our data. If you have kids that are missing more than 10% of their time, their chances of passing, scoring proficient, or growing to a level that we want – doesn’t exist.”

Cominos said that students who are struggling are put into classrooms where they can receive extra support.

He said that in classrooms where weaknesses were shown, Cominos schedules meetings with the teachers to make sure they know what the state is expecting from students and ways they can enhance their methods to challenge the student for academic growth.

Tomorrow, the Kittanning Paper will explore statistics from West Shamokin Junior-Senior High School.