United School District

Preparing our Students for Tomorrow...Today!

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Welcome from Dr. Parkins!

Alma Mater

On the Indiana Highway neath the sky of changeful hue
Stands our beloved High School e'er to her be true
Join the chorus sound its praises
Over hill and dale
Hail to Thee United High School, Hail to Thee, All Hail! 

Superintendent’s Message


The United School District is located at 10780 Route 56 Highway East, Armagh, PA  15920 in Indiana County.  The geographic size of United School District is 132.4 square miles  and serves the borough of Armagh and the townships of Brush Valley, Buffington, East Wheatfield, and West Wheatfield.  The District has two schools serving a total of approximately 1,100 students -- United Elementary School with students in Grades Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 6 and United Junior/Senior High School with students in Grades 7 through 12.


Now that school has started, and summer is reaching its end, it’s my pleasure to welcome you back to school.  Whether you are student, staff, parent, alumni, or community member, remember that you are always welcome at United.  Not only do we welcome you to visit, we also welcome you to visit us vicariously through our many forms of communication.  We are expanding the ways that we can reach out to our community so that you can share in our news and accomplishments.


Information for the school year can be found in our quarterly newsletter. You can always find information, too, on the District website, www.unitedsd.net.  Our athletic director will be keeping you up-to-date on all things athletic via Twitter @UHS_Lions.   And, this year, we will be introducing our own Facebook page so that you can stay in touch with the schools’ happenings.  In order to keep you informed, we have been working on adding social media as an effort towards increased communication.  We understand that social media has become part of the mainstream, and we need to become involved in order to improve our communications with you.


Besides improved communications, other improvements have been taking place, as well.  This summer, a heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) renovation is taking place at the Junior/Senior High School.  In working with our energy savings contractor, McClure Company, and Peoples Natural Gas, we will be able to provide high school students with a more regulated gas heating and air conditioning system throughout the building this year.


We are always looking at ways to improve our schools.  Together, with the help of our United community, you are welcome to communicate your ideas and solutions of improvement.  The District’s Vision – In partnership with our community, we seek to provide a high-quality and meaningful education, which prepares all students to be contributors in an ever-changing, diverse community and global society -- is to educate our United students with your help.   Through the collaboration of thoughtful and understanding minds, we want to work with you to continuously improve our District for the success of our students.


           Best wishes to all for a successful and productive 2016-2017 school year.

                                                       --Dr. Barbara Parkins

Congratulations to All Who Have Helped With Our Students' Success! 

SPP      United Earns High Marks on School Performance Profiles 

By David Hurst

Two of the region’s high schools earned elite marks on the latest School Performance Profiles, scores that ranked them in the top 50 statewide. 

Richland School District appeared to have posted the 27th best score in the state with a score of 92.9, while United earned a 90.1 at a time nearly 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s public high schools earned failing grades below 70 points.

For Richland, its 2013-14 high school performance score was a nearly 10-point improvement from the year before, a climb that even exceeded the growth goal the state set  for the years ahead, Richland School District Superintendent Arnold Nadonley said.

Nadonley said the 92.9 point score is an achievement that Richland’s faculty and staff, students, school board and parents can all share.

“I think it even goes back to our residents – the taxpayers – because it tells them they are getting a good return on their investment,” Nadonley said.

United schools Superintendent Barbara Parkins had a similar reaction.

“We’re pleased with our results,” she said. “But we know we can’t rest on our laurels. We have to keep working.”

United’s 90.1-point score at the high school level was a more than 12-point improvement from the year before.

The state launched the School Performance Profile in 2012-13, replacing the Adequate Yearly Progress model. It was also crafted to address new federal education guidelines tied to No Child Left Behind requirements.

The test rates schools on a 0-100 point scoring system based on a formula that includes standardized test scores, yearly academic progress, graduation and attendance rates.

Pennsylvania is currently revamping standardized tests to reflect new Common Core guidelines and other new standards. 

This year’s PSSA scores, which are already incorporating new “Pa. Core” standards were exempt from this latest Pennsylvania School Performance Score Profile scores.

Many of the state’s public schools saw their scores decline in what state officials have dubbed a Performance Profile transition year.

But a number of schools, including Richland and United, were exceptions locally.

Parkins and Nadonley said steps they took more than a year ago likely made a difference. 

Both schools focused on their areas of greatest weakness, based on 2012-13 results, and looked for ways to improve on them.

Parkins said United school officials took a closer look at ways to better prepare students for biology and science testing heading into last year’s Keystone Exams.

Nadonley said improvement in high school math was a big reason for the school’s high marks this year.

After 2012-13 results showed a lower-than-expected proficiency rate, the district made significant changes to how math is delivered at the junior high level, he said.

It meant changes to both curriculum and sequencing.

The class period for Algebra 1 doubled, becoming an 80 minute-per-day course, Principal Brandon Bailey said.

The district also decided to make the course available only to high school students and others in eighth-grade honors, he said.

 “If we can give our students a better grasp on it, the future courses like geometry and Algebra 2 fall in line,” Bailey said. 

“It makes a difference down the road.”

Richland’s Performance Profile was the highest in the Intermediate Unit 8 region that includes Cambria and Somerset counties.

Penn Cambria earned an 88.1 score for 2014-15, but most of the region’s schools had totals between 60 and 82.

Ferndale Area and Conemaugh Valley’s scores, 81.9 and 79.2, respectively, saw the area’s biggest improvements from the previous year, making approximately 10-point jumps.

Locally, 10 of 26 schools failed to reach the state’s 70 percent benchmark – many of them poor or rural districts.

Salisbury Elk-Lick’s schools score dropped 24 points to 62, putting it alongside nine other schools with “below basic” level grades. Northern Cambria had a 13-point drop to 63.8 points.

Greater Johnstown and Glendale had the region’s lowest scores.

Glendale’s 57.4 score was an eight-point drop from the previous school year. Greater

Johnstown had a 48.2 score, a 6.5-point drop from 2012-13 and a more-than-12-point decline from two years ago.

Attempts to reach Greater Johnstown school officials for comment were unsuccessful.

Both schools have a significantly higher number of economically disadvantaged students than the statewide average. Greater Johnstown’s student population has ranked among the state’s poorest in recent years, and many of the schools statewide with similar poverty percentages also had failing grades. 

Wilkinsburg schools in Allegheny County, for example, had a score of 40.7 for 2013-14.

Schools and others seeking education funding reform have pointed to such results as evidence that such schools with high poverty rates aren’t receiving enough support to meet today’s education demands. 

State officials have been mulling the idea of revamping Pennsylvania’s funding formula to distribute state money to schools differently in the coming years – a move that could give more aid to the region’s poorest schools. 

How they fared

2013-14 Pennsylvania School Performance Scores for area high schools

Notes: 1. A score of 70 or higher has traditionally been viewed as an acceptable/passing grade   

2. Elementary scores were not released this year because of changes in standardized testing

Berlin Brothersvalley 68.7

Blacklick Valley 67.3

Cambria Heights 70.7

Central Cambria 77.5

Chestnut Ridge 61.7

Conemaugh Township Area 69.3

Conemaugh Valley 79.2

Ferndale Area 81.9

Forest Hills 79.1

Glendale 57.4

Greater Johnstown 48.2

Ligonier Valley 76.8

Meyersdale Area 74.3

Northern Cambria 63.8

North Star 79.6

Penn Cambria 88.1

Portage Area 71.6

Richland 92.9

Rockwood Area 78.8

Salisbury-Elk Lick: 62

Shade-Central City 61.1

Shanksville-Stonycreek 68.4

Somerset Area 70.8

Turkeyfoot Valley Area 71.5

United 90.1 

Westmont Hilltop 70.3

Windber Area 75.9

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

NAMM Award
United Junior/Senior High School was one of 118 schools, nationwide, that received the 2016 SupportMusic Merit Award from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation.  NAMM has recognized United for its commitment to music education.  There were only nine (9) schools in Pennsylvania who achieved this award.  Congratulations to Acey Gongaware and Zach Karcher for their efforts in providing our students with  the opportunity to learn and grow with music.  Mrs. Gongaware and Mr. Karcher were instrumental in providing the data submitted to NAMM for this year’s award. 

United News