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Tag Archive: School Board

  1. September 2015 Board Watch Report Card

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    Below is the twenty-fourth Board Watch report card based on volunteer assessments.  The current report card reflects assessments from June through August of 2015. Overall, the School Board received a C+ average.

    Volunteer for Board Watch.

    Board Watch Report Card September 2015

     

     

     

    • Overall: The overall grade is a 3.25 (C+), which was the same grade as the previous Report Card. The grades were calculated from 23 surveys from 13 different volunteers.
    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
    • Focus and Mission: The score is a 2.86 (C), which decreased from a C+ on the previous Report Card. On average, volunteers reported that the Board only spent about half of its meeting time managing time effectively, focusing on ways to achieve the district’s goals, and prioritizing student outcomes.
    • Transparency: The score is a 3.83 (B), the same grade as on the previous Report Card.  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 4.24 (B+), the same grade as on the previous Report Card.  This means that on average, volunteers reported that few Board members used sarcastic or disrespectful verbal or nonverbal communication.  They reported that most of the Board handled differences of opinion respectfully.
    • Role Clarity: The score is a 2.13 (D+), the same as on the previous Report.  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 3.22 (C+), the same grade as on the previous Report Card.  On average, volunteers reported that only about half of Board members were prepared for meetings and appeared to use research, district data, existing policies, and other facts to inform their opinions.

    A Deeper Look at the Scores 

    Compared with the previous Report Card, volunteers observed a slight increase in comments referencing existing policies and seeking solutions/measuring progress.  Volunteers also observed an increase in Board Member comments communicating a lack of respect for fellow Board Members and/or district staff.  Specifically, volunteers suggested that when Board Members disagree with others, they should do so in a respectful way.

     


    Recommendation – Focus on Policy Making; Time Management

    The Board received its lowest grade in Role Clarity.  This grade reflects volunteer observations that the Board spends relatively little time focused on (1) how the district is making progress toward achieving its goals and (2) using policy to create solutions to Board Member concerns.  Although volunteers did observe the Board making comments about the needs of specific groups of students, they did not observe the Board addressing equity in a manner reflecting their role as policy makers.  We encourage the Board to use its time together to discuss progress toward goals and policy solutions that will result in more equitable access to opportunities for all students in the district.

    During this reporting period, volunteers also observed a lack of good time management during the meetings: starting late, returning to items previously discussed, and asking questions that could not be answered at the time.  Additionally, volunteers commented that in some instances, they believed meeting protocols and regular rules of order were not being followed.  These issues may be preventing the Board from focusing on its overall equity goals of maximum achievement for all students and equitable distribution of resources to address the needs of all students.

     


    Links to Videos of Board Meetings Covered by this Report Card

    Watch the Board meetings that our Board Watch volunteers attend to better understand the grade the Board received.

    Agenda Review Meetings.

    Legislative Meetings.


    Since the launch of Board Watch in January 2009, A+ Schools has issued 24 report cards on Pittsburgh School Board governance practices based on observations of meetings by trained volunteers.

    The Sepetember 2015 report card is the seventeenth 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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  2. Congratulations to the Nominees

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    Publication2

     

    Congratulations to the nominees for school board in Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8. You can learn more about their positions on critical issues facing our schools here.

    Between now and the November General Election, we encourage you to get to know the nominees and engage them in dialogue about their vision for the future of our District.

    Election News

    Holley, Wrenn, Kaleida earn nomination in Pittsburgh Public Schools Board

    Governor decries low voter turnout for primary election

    Blacks seeking state and county judicial offices fare badly; Burgess prevails in City Council District 9

  3. December 2014 Board Watch Report Card

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    Below is the twenty-first Board Watch report card based on volunteer assessments.  The current report card reflects assessments from June through November.  Overall, the School Board maintained a B– average.

    Board Watch Report Card January 2015

    • Overall: The overall grade is a 3.41 (B-), the same letter grade as in the previous Report Card.  The grades were calculated from 47 surveys from 23 different volunteers.
    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
    • Focus and Mission: The score is a 3.04 (C+), which is the same grade as in the previous Report Card.  On average, volunteers reported that the Board only spent about half of its meeting time managing time effectively, focusing on ways to achieve the district’s goals, and prioritizing student outcomes.
    • Transparency: The score is a 3.86 (B), increasing from a B- on the previous Report Card.  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 4.48 (A-), increasing from a B+ on the previous Report Card.  This means that on average, volunteers reported that ­very few Board members used sarcastic or disrespectful verbal or nonverbal communication.  They reported that almost all of the Board handled differences of opinion respectfully.
    • Role Clarity: The score is a 2.43 (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 3.27 (C+), which is the same grade as in the previous Report Card.  On average, volunteers reported that only about half of Board members were prepared for the meeting and appeared to use research, district data, existing policies and other facts to inform their opinions.

    A Deeper Look at the Scores 

    The Board received its highest per-meeting scores in Conduct, earning an A- or above for ten of the twelve meetings between June and November.  It is encouraging that volunteers observed most School Board members continuing to act respectfully toward one another during meetings.

    In the previous Report Card covering meetings between March–May, we reported volunteer observations of Board member comments and questions during Agenda Review and Legislative Sessions.  For that reporting period, volunteers observed that 73% of comments were reacting to individual agenda items, and only 11% of comments were identified as solution seeking or related to measuring progress.  It is encouraging that for the meetings included in this Report Card (September–November), volunteers observed a substantial increase from 11% to 21% for comments related to solution seeking or measuring progress and from 12% to 20% for comments referencing existing policy.  We applaud Board members’ efforts to increase discussions grounded in progress toward goals and seeking solutions.

    Graph from Board Watch Report Card January 2015


    Recommendation – Gather More Information

    As we recommended in the previous Report Card, we ask School Board members to take the time to become informed on topics about which they will make decisions.  Doing so will increase Board effectiveness in creating policy solutions and decrease excessive time spent on understanding information in the meetings.  The majority of volunteer comments for this reporting period—as well as for the previous Report Card—centered around Board members taking initiative to become more informed on the content of agenda items, including information related to state policies relevant to public education.


    Since the launch of Board Watch in January 2009, A+ Schools has issued 21 report cards on Pittsburgh School Board governance practices based on observations of meetings by trained volunteers.

    The January 2015 report card is the fourteenth 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.


     What You Can Do

    More Information