EAST ROCKHILL — Beginning this school year, the state of Pennsylvania has added a new requirement that each school district do an Assessment of Civic Knowledge test.

"The law requires each school district to administer at least once to students during grades 7-12 a locally developed assessment of United States history, government, and civics that includes the nature, purpose, principles, and structure of the United States government and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship," Keither Veverka, Pennridge's social studies supervisor, wrote in a presentation he gave at the April 6 Pennridge School Board Curriculum Committee meeting.  

In Pennridge, the test will be given to eighth grade students in May, he said.

"This material is routinely already taught as part of the eighth grade curriculum," Superintendent David Bolton said. 

The eighth grade social studies course is "Foundations of America," which focuses on the United States Constitution and American government, Veverka said. 

"The Pennridge Assessment of Civic Knowledge includes 40 multiple choice questions from the 2020 version of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Test," Veverka wrote in his presentation. "Questions have been selected from the following sections of the test: Principles of American Government, System of Government, Rights & Responsibilities, and Symbols & Holidays."

Students answering at least 28 questions correctly will receive a passing score. Teachers will be given and relay to individual students the student's score.

Districts are required to give information every two years to the Pennsylvania Department of Education about the type of assessment, total number of students who took it, number of students who passed and the grade level of those taking the test. 

The district will also do its own analysis each year, Veverka said.

During the board's Personnel Committee meeting following the Curriculum Committee, a proposed new assistant director of food production position was discussed.

"The main function and purpose of this job is to assist in the day to day operation of the 11 nutritional services kitchens in the district, hands-on to help assist in the cafeteria, evaluation of food production and quality control and consistency from one cafeteria to another," said Gina Giarratana, the district's director of nutritional services.

The job will also include teaching the nutritional services staff how to create new scratch recipes and getting feedback from students through taste-testing activities, she said.

"We hope that this would increase our breakfast and lunch participation by offering those home-style from scratch, fresh meals," Giarratana said. She said she is also hoping to use produce grown from school district gardens. 

Board President William Krause asked if food items from local farms might also be used. Some of that has happened in the past, Giarratana said, but the proposed new position would make it possible to do more.

"Scratch-cooking, locally grown, it's always a big plus," Krause said.

The salary for the job will be $40,000, which puts the cost at a little more than $59,000 with benefits included, Giarratana said.

"That's all paid through the nutritional services budget," she said.

After adding the new position, the nutritional services budget is projected to have a surplus of about $1,400 for the 2021-2022 school year, she said. 

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