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September 2013 Board Watch Report Card

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Volunteers find little progress by Pittsburgh School Board in recent report card

Board stuck at Overall B- on Board Watch Report Card

September 2013 Board Watch Report Card


The Pittsburgh School Board received an overall grade of B- on its September 2013 report card —

Minimum Score     Grade
  5.00  A+
  4.67  A
  4.33  A-
  4.00  B+
  3.67  B
  3.33  B-
  3.00  C+
  2.67  C
  2.33  C-
  2.00  D+
  1.67  D
  1.33  D-
  1.00  F

the same overall grade the Board received on the previous six report cards issued since February 2012. Here’s how the grade breaks down:

Overall: The overall grade remained at a 3.35 (B-), the same grade as in the previous Report Card. The grades were calculated from 15 surveys from 10 different volunteers.

Focus and Mission: The score is a 3.47 (B-), remaining a B- from the previous Report Card. On average, volunteers reported that the Board spent just over half of their meeting time managing time effectively, focusing on ways to achieve the district’s goals, and prioritizing student outcomes.

Transparency: The score decreased slightly from a B+ to a 3.72 (B), which means that on average, volunteers agreed that they felt welcome at the meeting and understood the information presented and the rationale behind the Board’s actions.

Conduct: The score is a 4.04 (B+), remaining at a B+. This means that on average, volunteers reported that some Board members used sarcastic or disrespectful verbal or nonverbal communication. They reported that some of the Board handled differences of opinion respectfully.

Role Clarity: The score is a 2.40 (C-), remaining a C-and continuing to be the lowest grade. This score reflects that on average, volunteers reported that the Board spent less than half of its meeting time focused on how the district is making progress toward achieving its goals and using policy to create solutions to Board member concerns. Volunteers said the Board spent more than half of its meeting time focused on the details of agenda items (i.e., when items occur, who participates, etc.).

Competency: The score is a 3.12 (C+), remaining a C+ from the previous Report Card, which means that on average, volunteers reported that slightly more than half of the Board members were prepared for the meeting and appeared to use research, district data, existing policies and other facts to inform their opinions.


Recommendations – Supporting Policies of Educational Equity and Excellence through Envisioning Process

In the June Report Card, A+ Schools urged the School Board to guard and promote educational equity and excellence for all of Pittsburgh’s students as the district continued its Envisioning work.

We encourage the School Board to prioritize decisions that will result in our district remaining financially sustainable and result in schools better serving our most vulnerable students. The School Board should keep this priority in mind when considering the soon to be released Envision recommendations and when passing a new budget at the end of the year . We understand that the decisions before you are going to become increasingly more difficult. We urge you to work through these difficult decisions with dignity and respect for each other and the district administration and to put the needs of our students first.

Since the launch of Board Watch in January 2009, A+ Schools has issued 17 report cards on Pittsburgh School Board governance practices based on observations of meetings by trained volunteers.

The September 2013 report card is the ninth report card to be issued using the new reporting form (Version 2.0) introduced by A+ Schools in 2011. Version 2.0 reflects higher expectations for the School Board’s governance and allows for more specific feedback and recommendations from Board Watch volunteers.

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