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Old 08-05-2013, 01:00 PM
 
Location: The Flagship City and Vacation in the Paris of Appalachia
2,773 posts, read 3,859,855 times
Reputation: 2067

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Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
My point is there is no other way to rank schools other than test scores. You can take other available statistical data and create a complicated methodology but it just hides the true results. I don't like NCLB testing but it is what it is.
What is the relationship between future earnings and PSSA scores of a student? Or how about Ivy league college acceptance rates and PSSA scores? As I have previously stated, simply using test scores is flawed and I am not supporting any other methodologies, just pointing out they are available for those interested. There are many other factors available for analyzing schools and test scores are just part of the equation. Especially if you control for income, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, parental involvement, etc. Ranking schools is complicated and using PSSA scores to simplify the rankings is not the answer. For instance, a homogenous school district with high PSSA scores may not be the best for a minority family or a relatively wealthy school district with high PSSA scores may not be the best for a family who is struggling financially. Here are some factors I consider important when comparing schools in no particular order:

1) Number of AP and IB courses offered
2) Standardized test scores (PSSA, SAT, ACT, etc.) Note that I mentioned you can also look at college entrance standardized tests and not just PSSA scores.
3) Number of AP tests taken
4) Graduation rates
5) Number of students involved in dual enrollment or taking college classes in high school

For those of you who are interested here are a few more ranking links:

Washington Post Most Challenging Schools
Pennsylvania Schools - The Washington Post

PA School SAT and ACT Scores
Data and Statistics
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:03 PM
 
Location: A coal patch in Pennsyltucky
10,379 posts, read 10,673,235 times
Reputation: 12705
Quote:
Originally Posted by trackstar13 View Post
What is the relationship between future earnings and PSSA scores of a student? Or how about Ivy league college acceptance rates and PSSA scores? As I have previously stated, simply using test scores is flawed and I am not supporting any other methodologies, just pointing out they are available for those interested. There are many other factors available for analyzing schools and test scores are just part of the equation. Especially if you control for income, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, parental involvement, etc. Ranking schools is complicated and using PSSA scores to simplify the rankings is not the answer. For instance, a homogenous school district with high PSSA scores may not be the best for a minority family or a relatively wealthy school district with high PSSA scores may not be the best for a family who is struggling financially. Here are some factors I consider important when comparing schools in no particular order:

1) Number of AP and IB courses offered
2) Standardized test scores (PSSA, SAT, ACT, etc.) Note that I mentioned you can also look at college entrance standardized tests and not just PSSA scores.
3) Number of AP tests taken
4) Graduation rates
5) Number of students involved in dual enrollment or taking college classes in high school

For those of you who are interested here are a few more ranking links:

Washington Post Most Challenging Schools
Pennsylvania Schools - The Washington Post

PA School SAT and ACT Scores
Data and Statistics
I'll start with the Washington Post ranking. I hope Jeff Bezos pays more attention to what they are publishing now that he owns the paper. The comments that follow the article show the credibility it has. As one person commented on the WP article:

Quote:
This has been said before, but it bears repeating:
This method of ranking is stupid. It inflates the rank of school districts where
parents can afford to allow their children to "take a flier" on relatively
expensive tests, even if they are not prepared. It doesn't take into account how
well students do in the APs. It cuts off schools who do too well on the SAT (!).

It's like ranking American Idol singers on how many songs they say
they can sing, without listening to any of them. And then arbitrarily cutting
off ones who are "too good."
The PA Dept. of Education site provides SAT test results back to 2001 for every HS in the state. The SAT is a better indicator than the PSSA especially for upper grades. By HS, the majority of students know the PSSA test makes no difference to their success so many don't take it seriously. The problem with using the SAT is many students don't take it since they are not planning to go to college. At some schools, almost 100% take it, while at others, less than 50% of the students take the test.

Regarding the factors you consider important in ranking schools, here are my comments.

1) Number of AP and IB courses offered - This puts small schools at a disadvantage since they can't offer as many AP classes as a larger school. For example, small schools are not likely to offer AP Microeconomics, Psychology, European or World History. It just is not a valid criteria for comparing schools.

2) Standardized test scores (PSSA, SAT, ACT, etc.) Note that I mentioned you can also look at college entrance standardized tests and not just PSSA scores. It is interesting to notice the anomalies between how well school districts do on the PSSA and how well they do on the SAT. JR Masterman seems to be at the top of all the ranking but was 20th in the 2012 SAT ranking. North Penn and North Allegheny were #1 and 2 in the state in SAT scores but never seem to be ranked the top schools in the state.

3) Number of AP tests taken - My daughter took at least three AP exams and failed all of them. I knew she would do poorly on the tests when she signed up for the classes. The number of tests taken is meaningless; the only valid statistics are the number who pass and the average score.

4) Graduation rates - Schools can inflate this number by pushing students through school and reducing the requirements. Even with the Keystone Exams, there will be ways around not passing the test.

5) Number of students involved in dual enrollment or taking college classes in high school - I am not a fan of students taking college classes in HS. We live close to a university. My children could have taken college classes in HS. I'm sure they had more rigorous AP classes than the college classes they could have taken.

Back to the OP question about where to live in the State College/DuBois area with a good school district. After looking more closely I would have to rank the following districts the highest:
1. State College
2. DuBois
3. Bellefonte
4. Penns Valley
5. Brookville

Punxsutawney is probably too long of a commute to Dubois or State College, or it would be ranked in the top 5.

Districts to avoid are West Branch Area, Harmony and Philipsburg-Osceola Area.
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:04 PM
 
Location: The Flagship City and Vacation in the Paris of Appalachia
2,773 posts, read 3,859,855 times
Reputation: 2067
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
Regarding the factors you consider important in ranking schools, here are my comments.
Good post and I think we agree on many things. However, the factors I posted were just some factors I view as important from various schools. I agree with you about many of the flaws associated with various metrics of success when ranking schools. I was pointing out to the OP that looking at various rankings is helpful and the PBT rankings are not the gold standard, especially because they only look at a few different factors. I even recently looked at a study that ranked schools based on the restrictiveness of union contracts and the author found that schools with very restrictive union contracts (limited class sizes, set number of preps, etc.) actually performed lower than schools with less restrictive union contracts. Probably because the teachers/union are fighting the administration on every provision of the contract if they are lengthy and numerous rather than focusing on the kids. Finally, I believe that taking as many factors as possible into account and looking at many rankings can be helpful with your school choice. For instance, as you mentioned State College performs pretty well on almost all of the rankings therefore it should be a pretty good choice.
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Old 08-07-2013, 04:53 AM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
45,435 posts, read 60,623,477 times
Reputation: 61048
As a note from a couple posts ago, Punxsy and Brookville are both about 20 miles or so from DuBois. Getting there is easier from Brookville because of I-80 (maybe, it's in its reconstruction phase right now) while Punxsy to Dubois is 2 lane road (don't ask me the route number, I just know how to get there-219 maybe).

Both Punxsy and Brookville are about 2 hours from State College.

Brookville school taxes are relatively high, although the system has pretty much maintained its competence, but there are internal issues on the School Board. Some of which reach back to when the members themselves were in school there, 40 years ago.
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:43 AM
 
Location: A coal patch in Pennsyltucky
10,379 posts, read 10,673,235 times
Reputation: 12705
Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
As a note from a couple posts ago, Punxsy and Brookville are both about 20 miles or so from DuBois. Getting there is easier from Brookville because of I-80 (maybe, it's in its reconstruction phase right now) while Punxsy to Dubois is 2 lane road (don't ask me the route number, I just know how to get there-219 maybe).

Both Punxsy and Brookville are about 2 hours from State College.

Brookville school taxes are relatively high, although the system has pretty much maintained its competence, but there are internal issues on the School Board. Some of which reach back to when the members themselves were in school there, 40 years ago.
Route 119 runs from Punxsy to just outside DuBois and then becomes Route 219. In addition to being a two lane road, it goes through the town of Sykesville where the speed limit is 25 MPH and there is usually a speed trap by the local police.
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:10 AM
 
2,290 posts, read 3,828,961 times
Reputation: 1746
Quote:
Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
The Brockway area might be good for commuting to the DuBois location, a stable and proud smaller community with services extending well out into Snyder Twp/Jefferson County and Horton Twp/Elk County
Yes, this is the answer.
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Old 08-11-2013, 05:10 AM
 
Location: Wherever I May Roam...
392 posts, read 1,068,997 times
Reputation: 238
State College would be a better bet than DuBois. The economy in SC area is booming, and overall there is more to offer. IMO, many folks in northwestern Clearfield County/DuBois area are old-time, small-town yokels not very welcoming to newcomers. There are hardly any jobs, and lots of young people graduate from school and leave for places like Erie, Pittsburgh, and southern/western states the first chance they get.

Coming from south Jersey, I think the State College/Altoona area would be more welcoming to you, not to mention you would have MUCH more to see and do in that part of Central PA.
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:50 PM
 
Location: I live wherever I am.
1,935 posts, read 4,778,654 times
Reputation: 3317
Quote:
Originally Posted by lissamaho View Post
My husband and I have just finally qualified for a mortgage and are looking to relocate from South Jersey to central PA - mainly due to the combo of MUCH better schools + affordable housing. I'd love info & recommendations on any tiny towns with affordable housing and good schools. My husband works for a major retail outlet and can transfer his job to either State College or Du Bois, and I'm a student heading into a tech career that is telecommuting-friendly, so finding work isn't as much of an issue as it would be otherwise. We would prefer a more "rural" setting where the neighbors aren't right up next to us, if that makes sense. Our house hunt is in the 100k and lower range.

So far we've seen houses we liked in places like Osceola Mills, Corsica, Mill Hall.
Any input? TIA!
I perform music around that area regularly and I can tell you that you really can't go wrong with any town in that vicinity. Hunt around on City-Data to check out each town you'd consider. Pay close attention to the "median age" for the town... if it's unusually low, chances are, you've got yourself a college town. I, personally, would stay away from college towns.

Johnsonburg is known as "stinky city" because of the large paper mill around which the town is centered. I can vouch for that - at times, the town really stinks.

I have always liked Brookville, though that's a bit west of what you suggested.

If you stay relatively close to I-80, you shouldn't have trouble with Internet or cell phone signal.
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Old 08-11-2013, 06:18 PM
 
Location: A coal patch in Pennsyltucky
10,379 posts, read 10,673,235 times
Reputation: 12705
Quote:
Originally Posted by badguykc View Post
State College would be a better bet than DuBois. The economy in SC area is booming, and overall there is more to offer. IMO, many folks in northwestern Clearfield County/DuBois area are old-time, small-town yokels not very welcoming to newcomers. There are hardly any jobs, and lots of young people graduate from school and leave for places like Erie, Pittsburgh, and southern/western states the first chance they get.

Coming from south Jersey, I think the State College/Altoona area would be more welcoming to you, not to mention you would have MUCH more to see and do in that part of Central PA.
The OP stated, "My husband works for a major retail outlet and can transfer his job to either State College or Du Bois." So Altoona doesn't appear to be an option and the fact there are hardly any jobs in the northwestern Clearfield County/DuBois area is also not an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RomaniGypsy View Post
I perform music around that area regularly and I can tell you that you really can't go wrong with any town in that vicinity. Hunt around on City-Data to check out each town you'd consider. Pay close attention to the "median age" for the town... if it's unusually low, chances are, you've got yourself a college town. I, personally, would stay away from college towns.

Johnsonburg is known as "stinky city" because of the large paper mill around which the town is centered. I can vouch for that - at times, the town really stinks.

I have always liked Brookville, though that's a bit west of what you suggested.

If you stay relatively close to I-80, you shouldn't have trouble with Internet or cell phone signal.
The only real college town in that area is State College. DuBois has a small Penn State branch campus but you couldn't consider it a college town.

I can't imagine someone taking a job in DuBois and moving to Johnsonburg unless you had family there. Johnsonburg is a 45 minute drive from DuBois.
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Old 08-11-2013, 07:22 PM
 
Location: I live wherever I am.
1,935 posts, read 4,778,654 times
Reputation: 3317
Quote:
Originally Posted by villageidiot1 View Post
The OP stated, "My husband works for a major retail outlet and can transfer his job to either State College or Du Bois." So Altoona doesn't appear to be an option and the fact there are hardly any jobs in the northwestern Clearfield County/DuBois area is also not an issue.



The only real college town in that area is State College. DuBois has a small Penn State branch campus but you couldn't consider it a college town.

I can't imagine someone taking a job in DuBois and moving to Johnsonburg unless you had family there. Johnsonburg is a 45 minute drive from DuBois.
Oh, you'd be surprised. Clarion is a college town, Punxsutawney is a college town... further east you have Lock Haven, Selinsgrove... all college towns... PA has a lot of colleges.
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