Saturday, November 1, 2008

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Anonymous said...

Two bits of information I found alarming:
1)As per the BOE website...If an assignment is not turned in it still receives a grade of 50% and,
2) Some teachers have been directed to assign less homework because the students who are not turning in the work are ruining the Board's statistics for improvement.

Annette Werner said...

I knew little about University Prep except that the University of Pittsburgh is somehow involved, and so I visited the school's open house yesterday. It seems likely that this school will be very successful.

The school features the following:

A dedicated counselor is scheduled to meet with each student at least once a year to discuss college plans (so for example students will receive guidance in 9th grade or earlier).

A one million dollar grant will allow students to start visiting colleges as early as 9th grade, and families can become involved in the process through a special family education plan.

Another grant will allow each student to receive a laptop computer.

The University of Pittsburgh in not only sending professors to teach some classes, but is also working on professional development.

The school offers French currently, will soon offer Spanish, and hopes to become the first PPS to offer Latin.

Students reading below grade level are enrolled in special "Read 180" programming to bring them up to grade level.

An emphasis on goal setting, achievement, critical thinking and teamwork is apparent.

The principal seems to be enthusiastic, thoughtful and innovative and students and teachers seem to be happy and involved.

Since PURE promises not to gloss over the hard questions, we do need to ask whether it will be possible to provide this level of resources and attention across the board so that the school can truly be a model for other Pittsburgh public schools. And, while entry in 6th grade rather than 9th grade is said to be a major benefit of 6-12 schools, only half the students will enter at the 6th grade level.

Anonymous said...

This morning"s Post-Gazette and the PPS website outline the district's plan for the possibility of a PAT strike. Hopefully, this will not occur, and I do applaud the district for coming up with a plan. But I am concerned about what that plan is- changing the starting time for a number of high schools to 6:30 am! Since studies have shown that high schoolers are barely awake at the regular starting time, how does the district expect them to be able to be ready for school, get to a bus stop, and be awake for class! I would expect to see a greater percentage of students choosing to go or ending up going, to school late or not at all. For those students who may be teetering on the edge of whether to stay in school, this may be the straw that will break the camel's back.
Also, I am concerned with the lack of concern for the safety of the students waiting in the dark and the cold at 5:30-6:00 am. It seems that the starting time should be pushed to later in the day, not earlier, or the district should hire more buses, since it will be asking for a reimbursement of the monthly fees from PAT. Hopefully, parents of the students of affected schools will register their protest to the district.

Annette Werner said...

I attended a presentation by Bill Isler today about Pittsburgh Public Schools: Excellence for All.

I raised the question of a family considering a move to Highland Park, Shadyside or other East End neighborhoods outside the Allderdice feeder pattern. Since magnet lotteries are uncertain. and a student may try a magnet and change their mind, or (as Kathy Fine asked) simply want a full service comprehensive high school, what is there for these families to fall back on?

Mr. Isler said that at this time students could go to schools like Peabody and Westinghouse and that comprehensive high schools are to be improved at some point through magnet programs. So I guess the fallback for many families would have to be private school.

Will this approach lead to quality public schools and strong neighborhoods in the long run? Maybe- but I would sure like know that there are places where it has worked before counting on it.

Anonymous said...

From an IB 6 - 12 Power Point handout :

"Students can take three paths... "Full" Diploma with all exams, Diploma courses with some exams or Only take Diploma courses."

From a Washington Post article:

And since the exams are written and graded by outside experts to match college standards, there is no way to dumb down the teaching of the course without being caught, as long as every student takes the exam.

- Since students can just take the courses, is there a danger that the demanding course work will be scaled back?

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