TOWANDA - While the Towanda School District and the Towanda Area Elementary School made AYP this year, Towanda Area School District 11th graders again missed the PSSA academic target set for them by the state, Towanda school officials said.

Based on the 2011-12 results on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, all grade spans in the Towanda School District made AYP, except for the 9-12 grade span in math, Elementary Principal Jennifer Farley said.

The 9-12 grade span missed the AYP target due to the performance of 11th graders on the math PSSA, since they were the only class in that grade span that took the PSSA.

At the junior/senior high school level, the PSSA was given in the 2011-12 academic year to the students in grades 7,8, and 11, and 68.6 percent of those students achieved scores of proficient or above in math, which was less than the 78 percent target set by the state, junior/senior high school Principal Dennis Peachey said.

"The seventh and eighth graders scored really good in math," he said. "But the 11th grade was struggling a bit."

Scores of the district's 11th graders have been an issue for the school district in the past.

This year, the school district had to develop a school improvement plan because of the scores of 11th graders on the PSSA in past years, said Pam Hosterman, principal for instruction and curriculum.

"I believe this is the third year that we've done a school improvement plan," she said.

However, as of this year, the PSSA test will no longer be given to 11th graders, Peachey said.

Instead, AYP for 11th graders for the current academic year will be determined by their performance on the Algebra I and Literature Keystone Exams, which will be given to 11th graders in December, unless they had taken the exam in the past, Peachey said. If students fail to achieve a proficient score on the two Keystone exams in December, they will have an opportunity to re-take the exam later this year, which would count toward the determination of AYP, he said.

All 11th graders will also have to take a Biology Keystone Exam this year, he said.

For other grade levels at the junior/senior high school, Algebra I, Biology, and Literature Keystone exams are being given to students when they finish the course that the test applies to, he said.

Beginning with the Class of 2017 - which is the current eighth-grade class - students must pass the three Keystone exams in order to graduate from high school, he said. However, if students don't pass the exams, there will be opportunities for students to retake them, so that they can still graduate, he said.

In addition, if students are not able to pass the Keystone exams, they can undergo a project-based assessment in order to fulfill their graduation requirement, he said.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.