Focus School Designation
September 27, 2016
Dear Agora Parents/Guardians,
The notice below provides information about the Federal designation of “Focus Schools,” how Agora received this designation, and our interventions to address achievement for all students.
As you read the attached, I hope you will agree with me that there is a lot of pride in the Agora school community that does not appear in test scores or the graduation rate. To share a few and I’m sure you could add more, we have:
- Graduates who may have never graduated from their local high school.
- Special needs students who find comfort in our online model and have many more opportunities to be included in a least restrictive environment with their peers.
- Students who have had unfortunate experiences with severe bullying have been able to begin to thrive with the safe environment that our school provides.
- Students who come to Agora behind have the opportunity to catch up while advanced students can soar at their own pace.
- Targeted attention, based on entrance benchmark assessments and diagnostic exams, provides students the opportunity to realize their true potential.
- Valid data that shows the longer students remain with our school, the stronger their results.
Agora’s focus on academic achievement is supported by a team of professionals:
- General & Special Education Teachers
- Principals & Assistant Principals
- Math & Reading Specialists
- Guidance Counselors
- School Nursing Department
- School Psychologists
- Parent Support Coordinators
- Family Coaches
- Strong Start Coaches
- Truancy Prevention Coordinators
- Family Assistance Crisis Coordinator
- Student Transition Coordinator
- ESL Teacher/Coordinator
As part of the Focus designation, we have submitted a three-year plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). This Plan is posted on our website at http://www.agoraeagles.org/title-i.html or email Rich Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FOCUS SCHOOLS ESEA FLEXIBILITY WAIVER PARENT NOTIFICATION - FOCUS SCHOOL DESIGNATION FOR THE 2016-17 SCHOOL YEAR
On Aug. 20, 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) received waivers from ten requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as amended by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) of 2001. However, ESEA/NCLB still requires that parents or guardians who have children attending a Title I school be notified of the school’s academic achievement as well as the school’s designation under Pennsylvania’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver. This letter is intended to provide additional information concerning the options available to your child under Pennsylvania’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver and to help you understand what the waiver will mean for you and your child.
Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, PDE no longer uses Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) to determine a school’s designation. Instead, in accordance with the ESEA Flexibility Waiver, PDE will use four Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) to designate the Title I school as Reward – High Achievement, Reward – High Progress, Priority, or Focus schools. The four AMOs include: measuring test participation rate; graduation/attendance rate; closing the achievement gap for all students; and closing the achievement gap for the historically underperforming students. In addition, all public schools in the state will receive a School Performance Profile score based on 100 points. This score will be considered the school’s academic performance score, and while not the criteria for determination of Reward, Priority or Focus status, it details student performance through scoring of multiple measures that define achievement. The School Performance Profile also includes supports to permit schools to access materials and resources to improve in defined areas related to achievement.
Our overall score for the 2014-2015 school year is 46.4 out of 100. It is an increase from the prior score of 42.4. Only schools with an 11th grade received a School Performance Profile this year. Despite the progress made by our students, Agora Cyber Charter School remains designated as a Focus School for the 2016-17 school year.
Focus Schools are 10 percent of the lowest Title I schools based on the highest achievement gap for the Historically Low Performing students’ AMO. The aggregate achievement gap is determined by the combined Mathematics/Reading PSSA scores and/or the Algebra 1/Literature Keystone Exam scores. They can also be a Title I high school with a graduation rate less than 60 percent; or have a test participation rate below 95 percent and are not identified as a Priority School.
Agora is designated a Focus School based on our graduation rate of less than 50% and the PSSA and Keystone scores of our student population including the subgroups identified as eligible for Special Education and Economically Disadvantaged. Though we did not meet proficiency levels in the 14-15 School Year in each subgroup we did identify areas of growth in Science and Biology.
As a Focus School, we worked collaboratively with parents/guardians, our community and our administration to develop a school turnaround plan, which will implement interventions to respond to the specific needs of improving the performance of our low-performing student subgroups. The following are interventions in place:
- Newly enrolled students take part in Strong Start Orientation sessions
- Students will participate in AIMSweb and CDT assessments
- Use of the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) process to assist students who are not mastering skills
- Students will attend synchronous sessions in order to close achievement gap
Thank you for all that you do to support your child’s education.
Dr. Michael J. Conti, CEO
Agora Cyber Charter School