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School Works

Community action research at work – for a better understanding of what's happening in our schools.

Launched in 2009, School Works is a community action research program sponsored by A+ Schools that uses teams of trained volunteers to interview school staff and collect data on staffing, training, coursework, support services, resources and learning opportunities for Pittsburgh students.

School Works is modeled after the successful Ready Schools Project conducted
by D.C. Voice in Washington, D.C.

 What have we learned with School Works? (click on the picture to expand)

School Works Infographic FINAL

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School Works Findings 2015

2015 SW Cover

Download the 2014-2015 Executive Summary

Download the 2014-2015 Report

Download the presentation

This year, our volunteers interviewed fifty principals and found practices that are working to reduce chronic absenteeism, reduce suspensions and improve outcomes for students in vulnerable schools.

Unfortunately, students in vulnerable schools are more likely to be suspended, have less experienced teachers, and have higher principal turnover than students at less vulnerable schools. Therefore internal practices and external policies prevent vulnerable schools from creating conditions for student success. Read more, and join us to take action to make change.


School Works Findings 2014

School Works Cover Picture

Download the Executive Summary

Download the Full Report

Scroll through the Presentation

Students called on the Pittsburgh Board of Public Education to adopt a Student Bill of Rights as a way to address systemic inequities found in this year’s School Works community action research.

The results of surveys done through A+ Schools’ School Works program completed by over 400 high school juniors and 26 principals, counselors, and teacher leaders in Pittsburgh’s nine public secondary schools demonstrated that poorer minority students face multiple school-based obstacles to college and career readiness. The key finding from the report provided was that school climate, positive discipline practices, and staff instability are concerns common at high poverty schools.

School Works Findings 2013

School Works Report Image2

Download the Executive Summary

Download the Full Report

School Works volunteers this year interviewed 49 PPS principals and 14 principals from suburban school districts.  While we found that some progress had been made with regards to improving children’s access to opportunities across the district, we found that staff instability was high and that student conduct standards were varied with higher numbers of suspensions and referrals at our most vulnerable schools.

A huge debt of thanks is owed to our volunteers, parents and community leaders who attended our briefing sessions on May 29 and June 4, 2013.  Special thanks to Michelle Williams, Mollie Pollack and to Amy Scott for pulling together these findings and analyzing the results.

How School Works Advances Equity and Excellence

Our Volunteers

Volunteers are independent and neutral citizens who are recruited, trained and sent in teams to conduct private interviews with school staff. A+ Schools invites participation by all citizens who share our commitment to student achievement. Volunteers attend a training session led by A+ Schools that covers their responsibilities, instruction on how to use the survey, and an overview of what the collected data reveals about opportunities and resources for students. Volunteers are then assigned in teams to conduct a very specific one-hour interview with school staff.

Our Successes

Learn more about School Works