By Helen Zeidman
The Red Lion Area Senior High School shows its pride goes beyond an undefeated football team with its new status as the No. 2 school in York County. Red Lion’s high score on the Pennsylvania School Performance report bumped the school to the top of the county.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education annually evaluates schools in Pennsylvania on a plethora of different factors. The department combines the scores from various categories to calculate the overall score for a school. Therefore, the top performing and well-rounded schools end up at the top of the rankings.
Red Lion’s new ranking shows the hard work from staff and students has paid off.
“The message I try to send is that we have a great school,” Mr. Mark Shue, the principal of Red Lion Area Senior High School, said. “This validated what we do. It really shows we have a great school here.”
The Department of Education evaluates schools on many different factors, including Keystone test results, SAT scores, attendance and graduation rate.
The score indicates that Red Lion improved in many areas, including the school’s offering of equal opportunities to all students.
“The big thing that people look for is schools serving all kids, not just gifted and college prep,” Shue said. “Our major focus has been to improve educational programs at the high school for all kids.”
For example, the English 1 and 2 curriculums were completely changed to match the Keystone standards. The biology curriculum was also tweaked in order to align with the Keystone test and give all students an equal chance to pass the test.
This focus led to Red Lion’s exemplary scores for indicators of closing the achievement gap, especially for historically underperforming students. The staff was able to eliminate differences between low-achievement students and high-achievement students, ensuring equal success for students.
Standardized testing was another strong area for Red Lion. The Keystone test results also boosted Red Lion’s ranking. The high school received extra credit on the report for advanced achievement on the Biology and Mathematics Keystone exams. The Advanced Placement test scores and SAT scores were also contributors to the higher ranking.
Overall, Shue credits the improved ranking to the school-wide goals of focusing on learning and eliminating failure. Those objectives have followed students since they walked into freshman orientation and it seems to be paying off.
Shue also cites the addition of the Academic Prep period as a source of the improvement.
“Our Academic Prep period really has helped as far as academics,” Shue said. “I think everybody benefits from it.”
Academic Prep provides an additional thirty minutes for students to work, especially for academics. The extra time allows students to get a head start on homework or to see a teacher for remediation.
With multiple sources of positive change, such as Academic Prep, curriculum changes, and closing the achievement gap, Shue anticipates that Red Lion will stay high in the rankings.
“I think that we keep getting better and better,” Shue said. “The students can take pride in it because it is a reflection of them.”