Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Role of counseling office

On the January "Start a new post" Anonymous wrote:

What is the role of the counseling office in a public city school? I would guess that the counselors at most public schools are overworked, so how much help with college plans is reasonable to expect from the overworked counselors? In Pittsburgh, what is the role of the CAS facilitators in this process?
February 4, 2009 10:12 AM

Kathy Fine said...

Anon 10:12, thought that you might find this interesting. This is the question that we asked regarding counseling and the PPS response:

Activity 1.6 (from PPS strategic plan):
Create a plan including activities and timelines for students and families to provide non-academic support form Promise readiness.
• Redefine the role and refocus work of counselors on Promise Readiness.
• Develop messaging on the Promise.
• Provide training to District school leaders and staff to serve as Promise messengers.
• Create Promise Monitoring Plans for students beginning Grade 6.

Question from PURE Reform on Activity 1.6:
How will this be done? Will there be more counselors hired? Will secretaries be hired to ease the counselors’ paperwork load?

PPS Response:
The District is currently working to review and refine its current counselor model. At this time, the work is still in its early stages. It is too early to assess staff needs at this time.The District is moving to an automated attendance system, which will considerably ease counselor duties so that more of their attention can be devoted to counseling students.

In addition, the District is developing Pathways to the Promise—a system that will provide students with additional support and families with additional assurance their children’s progress is being reviewed and assistance provided.Pathways to the Promise also will help counselors in connecting students to activities or interventions that can help them meet their individual goals and student achievement requirements.The Pittsburgh Promise is a program designed to help students and families of the Pittsburgh Public Schools plan, prepare and pay for education beyond high school at an accredited post-secondary institution within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In test market surveys, the term Promise Ready had immediate brand recognition that linked The Pittsburgh Promise with the academic culture andopportunities provided by the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The Pathways to the Promise is a district– wide commitment to build a culture and provide appropriate supports, intervention strategies and communications that will reinforce high expectations, promote aspirations for higher education, and ensure that students are Promise Ready and on track to be eligible for scholarships awarded throughThe Pittsburgh Promise.Pathways to the Promise is intended to help students prepare to meet the future and to dramatically change the educational trajectory of Pittsburgh Public School students. Our goal is to make sure all students are “Promise-Ready” and on course to graduate and take advantage of a Pittsburgh Promise scholarship. To support this goal, we are developing Pathways to the Promise, a program available at all schools to better monitor and communicate student progress at important learning transitions such as 3rd grade, 6th grade, and 9th grade:

􀂾 3rd Grade: We will do more to communicate reading progress and ways to provide support at home. This is a time when students should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. It is essential for students to be able to read at grade level by the end of the 3rd grade so that they can read to learn in grades 4 and 5.

􀂾 6th Grade: This is a time when students are transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking and will benefit from more reminders about the importance of good behavior. We will share information about each student’s academic progress in reading and mathematics, as well as attendance and citizenship.

􀂾 9th Grade: We will do more to help students and families understand Grade Point Average (BPA) and attendance, both of which count towards Promise eligibility starting with the 9th grade year. 9th Grade Nation, a program that helps ease the transition between the middle grades and high school, will continue to expand and provide ways to keep students engaged and on course to graduate

February 4, 2009 10:23 AM


fixit said...

I got the "early stages" part of the post, but is there any timeline for implementation? And, is support planned for the kids in the limbo grades of 7th and 8th today? Or 4th and 5th today? These are questions that can be asked at EFA or PSCC meetings, so please don't feel pressed to investigate. Thanks for the info you have already provided.

Anonymous said...

How funny is it that the "pathway to the promise" is mentioned here. Once again, I've done a great deal--too much--thinking about just what kind of person conjures up a 50% grading policy, implements it without discussion, takes a great deal of heat, both public and private, meets with teachers...and keeps it in place, anyway. Surely, ensuring grades is ensuring that the fix is in--even the kids who don't have what it takes will make it onto the pathway.
How nice.
I'm dumbfounded by the silence coming from IB/CAS/AP and PSP parents. You earned your trip along the pathway the old fashioned way---your kids worked hard for it. But what will the journey yield? What will admissions reps say about Johnny or Jenny's grade reports anyway, especially when its public knowledge that grades are inflated.
Your silence is deafening, folks.
Nice to see that counselors will be the tour guide to the pathway.

Wow. Where has this district gone?

Questioner said...

The problem is, lots of people have said something but it doesn't seem to make any difference. 50% seems like an easy way to increase the graduation rate.

Anonymous said...

But Questioner.....this is exasperating....NO ONE outside of the inner sanctum at Bellefield Avenue puts any credence in what is being done. It's a sham. And graduation rates mean nothing if your top students end up at IUP because major universities have doubts about their transcripts.
Where is the outrage?
Pathway to the promise? Are they insane???

Questioner said...

What if we take a constructive approach and come up w/ an alternative that addresses the admin's argue in favor of 50%- wasn't it something like a 0 could cause students to get so far behind they give up; then submit the alternative and ask if there is any reason we can't adopt the alternative instead?


Anonymous said...

Questioner, countless teachers did this. They were given lip service by administration. Understand how a teacher's legs are cut off by such a policy. It's just as sickening as what the parent of a hard working kid might feel. Imagine having kids do little to nothing...and passing. Imagine grades going up by two letter grades thanks to this policy. Remember, there shall be no zeroes in your rollbooks. This means every zero is replaced by 50% of the total assignment value. This inflates the entire scale.
A panel of teachers was brought together to come up with alternatives. They did just that. Administration decided to keep this policy in place anyway.
Ask yourself why.
I'm a little confused by the comment about these people doing as they want regardless of outcry. You pay the salaries, right?

Questioner said...

Since we pay the salaries let us present the proposal. Bring it on!

We would be asking for a specific explanation as to why the 50% policy is better than what the teachers are proposing.

Norman Dale said...

Questioner, I don't have the specifics that perhaps anon has, but a team of teachers did meet with the administration about this lunacy. Where it went, I do not know.The PFT signed off on the 50% policy, so I don't place great faith in them, either. After all, they are not in the classroom, so what do they care? Someone here has to have the ability to put you in touch with a teacher or two on that panel.

fixit said...

Questioner asks for proposals, so I will give one I have already floated, another outing here.

The Pittsburgh Promise was designed with an increase in GPA built in, beginning with a 2.0 and increasing to 2.25, then 2.5 etc. Makes sense that the district is trying to make the Promise work and at the same time provide rigor. Every kid is given a fair chance to improve. This design also builds in teaching the value of education and the need for effort. Take the 50% procedure and issue a moratorium on it. This year give 50, next year make the value of an undone assignment only 40 or 30% in value. Keep going until the value of an undone assigment or a test not taken or whatever, is at ZERO. Change the culture. With the 50% procedure in place we are all enablers.

I know the admin vowed to modify the procedure. I am sorry, compromise is not really an option. Only a plan for elimination is acceptable.

Questioner said...

Any thoughts on this proposal?

Anonymous said...

fixit, you are fixing nothing by giving in. Instead, you are compromising what education is supposed to be all about. Walk a mile in the shoes of a Pittsburgh teacher and talk to me about compromise.
On one hand, you have taken all individuality out of instruction by forcing him to implement a daily prescribed teaching plan. You have done this with absolutely no regards to the realities of pacing or the fact that much of what you have put forward on a day to day basis hinges on kids doing homework for the next class. So kids fall woefully behind...and you don't want to hear about reality, you choose instead to preach from the ivory tower.
On the other hand, you completely hamstring the classroom teacher with a ridiculous "plan" that comes from the lunatic fringe. You have taken away any and all power a classroom teacher had.
And you also did in the teacher who was successful in battling apathy and illustrating to kids what fruit that labor can yield.
You killed real education and the idea of legitimate effort.
You have done everything to put kids on the 'pathway to the promise', even cheated where scores are concerned. In doing so, you quite possibly hurt the chances of hard working students getting into schools of their choice thanks to grading policies that yield inflated scores.
In your rush to have all PPS students drink from the Promise well---a well that will pay collegiate costs only after a student has received aid dollars in an effort to make ends meet--you have compromised an entire district.
I ask again...where is the outrage?

Questioner said...

Isn't that being a little hard on fixit, who is just recommending a phase out of the 50% policy rather than eliminating it overnight?

Norman Dale said...

I don't believe the "you" in anon's note refers to fixit. The reality is...this is what PPS has done to its teachers.

fixit said...

Questioner, thank you for trying to soften the blow I felt when I read the response from Anonymous 9:23. Norman Dale, you are a diplomat, but it is hard not to be offended by the 9:23 post when it is addressed to "fixit." It is Friday. I have a sense of humor, so here is my response to Anonymous 9:23.

When you say "you choose instead to preach from the ivory tower"
If you mean the computer desk I pass on my way to put downey in the rinse cycle, yes I preach from the ivory tower. I am justaparent. Forgive me for making wild suggestions like a gradual phase out of a procedure I detest as much for my CAS student as I do for my kid getting Learning Support. Coddling that student will not help him in the real world. The 50% rule does as much damage to both students. When you post "you have taken all individuality out of instruction" I am sure you are new to the blog. I have made other suggestions to restore control to teachers. One involved letting an English teacher teach all the standards required from novels they have selected from a catalogue. I even thought a trial would be good to use allowing a comparison between the canned curriculum and teacher selected material. Look at the 4Sights, the PSSAs and see who can make the work most meaningful. I could give other examples. Please watch the use of the "You" as you post. Last I checked, nobody had named me SUPERINTENDENT FOR A DAY and I am only a parent, trying in several ways to make a contribution.

BTW, as far as the lack of outrage over the 50%, I think you would be surprised at parental outcry in the form of emails, phone calls and discussion at almost every EFA meeting this year.

I am thick-skinned so fling your arrows if you feel like it. I don't shrink easily. Generally, I just move on to a new pseudonym.

Anonymous said...

fixit, mea culpa....this usage of "you", as Norman stated...was used to infer the superintendent, and not you. You have put forth solutions to problems that detract from the education of our kids. Please accept my apologies.

fixit said...

Anonymous 6:49, ok, I am glad we got that out of the way. Now we can be best friends. You know the saying that goes something like "everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten?" Well, EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PARENT IN THE EDUCATION OF MY OWN KIDS, I LEARNED FROM A GOOD TEACHER. Now I like to spend time learning what I need to know to be a positive influence both for my own kids and all others. The exchanges here on this blog provide that opportunity. Thanks.