This Thanksgiving we’re grateful for the friends and supporters who stand with us as we push to change a status quo that is not working for too many of our students. We’re grateful for students who are pushing for changes that will lead to better character development and safer schools. We’re grateful for parents who are volunteering at high needs schools to support the staff and students to help create better outcomes for children. We’re grateful for teachers who are holding high expectations for students and closing gaps in schools across the District. And we’re grateful to you, our community, who believe that poverty is not destiny and that education is the key to unlocking a better future for all of our students.
In order to make the change we seek, we believe you have to start with knowing what is going on. Our 10th Anniversary Edition of the Report to Community on Public School Progress provides more information than ever before. We hope it sparks conversation, spurs advocacy, and inspires you to ask good questions of your school board member and administration. Below are a variety of additional resources to help you understand what’s in the Report.
Graduation rate improves substantially, variation in performance among schools
PITTSBURGH, PA – Nov. 17, 2014 – A+ Schools, Pittsburgh’s community advocate for educational equity and excellence, today released its 10th Anniversary Edition of the Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh. This year’s report provides a richer and more detailed view of the progress at each public school in Pittsburgh.
Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools, said after ten years of looking at school district trends, there has been modest progress overall on a variety of indicators and a substantial increase in graduation rates. “We celebrate these improvements and acknowledge the hard work of students, teachers, and staff to make them happen.”
The report shows wide variation in student learning across schools. Harris noted, “We see a growing number of schools pursuing excellence for students – they are closing the achievement gap, increasing participation in advanced courses, and increasing graduation rates. Unfortunately, we have far too many schools where student achievement is abysmally low.”
Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, praises the hard work of all staff over the past year.
This year, the revised report includes a focus on key academic milestones that research shows are building blocks of future success. “We want the community to focus on what we know matters for students to participate in a more demanding global economy. Are children reading by third grade so that they can read to learn going forward? Are they taking algebra and doing well in it by 8th grade so that they can take advanced math in high school? Are they taking advanced courses in high school that prepare them for college or career training? These are the questions we are asking, and we hope readers will focus on these milestones to support student success in schools,” said Harris.
A focus on these indicators uncovers wide variations in school success. The report reveals schools with high percentages of students, black, white, and poor, reading at grade level by third grade and schools where very few are. There are also schools with high percentages of students taking and successfully learning algebra by eighth grade and schools where no eighth graders are enrolled in the course. At the high school level, the report shows there are schools where almost all eleventh grade students passed the Literature Keystone exam, and schools where only eight percent did. “Our vision is a district where excellence is pursued in every school, for every child. Our collective future depends on making sure that every student attends a school that works,” Harris concluded.
Dr. Lane has high expectations for ALL PPS students.
Other findings in the report show:
The district graduation rate increased by eight percentage points to 77% overall.
Districtwide, 41% of students enrolled in one or more AP courses, 26 percentage points higher than in 2012. This percentage increase includes both black and white students.
The vast majority (96%) of teachers performed at the proficient or distinguished level last year. Distinguished teachers can be found across Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Chronic absenteeism and suspensions are problems in many schools.
Harris urged the Pittsburgh community to review the report as a tool for asking questions and seeking information about the quality of city schools. A+ Schools provides a number of opportunities for parent and community involvement in working toward great public schools. Harris noted this year’s inclusion of more equity indicators and focus on milestones creates opportunities for further research. “In the coming months we will be releasing brief white papers about correlations we find in the data, to better understand what’s working in schools, and what can be improved.”
A+ Schools will mail the report directly to twenty thousand city households with children enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and children under age five. In addition, the report will be available in local libraries, city schools and at elected officials’ offices, or by calling A+ Schools at 412-697-1298. The full report — and information on A+ Schools and its programs for parents, students and community members — can be accessed online at www.aplusschools.org.
Opportunities to Learn More
A+ Schools is offering tailored presentations to school and community groups interested in learning more about the report and how to use it. To arrange a presentation, contact A+ Schools at 412-697-1298, or visit the A+ Schools website at www.aplusschools.org.
A+ Schools is the community advocate and leader for educational equity and excellence in Pittsburgh’s Public Schools. It serves as a community force advancing the highest educational achievement and character development for every public school student. Its core purpose and focus of work is to increase educational equity in Pittsburgh schools. For more information, contact A+ Schools at 412-697-1298 or visit www.aplusschools.org.