Thursday, July 23, 2009

PSSA 2009 Preview

From today's PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09204/985931-100.stm

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once again, a happy face from a man who should not be smiling. I've read the initial reports and see stagnation. Why is this man smiling?

Questioner said...

Anon, are the initial reports posted online and if so can you give us the link? Thanks!

Questioner said...

PPS link below:

http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/143110829171011580/blank/browse.asp?a=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&c=62680

It mentions 8th grade doing especially well, which was the case last year as well. It would be interesting to see if 8th grade results are particularly good statewide, or if 8th grade instruction here in Pittsburgh is especially strong and should be studied for clues to what works well.

Parent said...

I believe that last year 8th grades statewide did well...but I'll check on that again.

Lost Planet Airman said...

Dear Mr.Roosevelt,
I am sure that I speak for most PPS teachers when I say that I take your comment on KDKA as an insult. To intimate that your outrageously short-sighted, poorly planned curriculum led to better scores is once again an insult. Your curriculum had nothing to do with it, sir. Your dedicated teachers, who realized what a poorly conceived plan you have concocted is in place, deserve any and all credit for any (where are they) and all score increases.

Anonymous said...

Has Read180 been in use in HSs for two years now? I think we can safely say it has not had the effect of raising reading scores demonstrably. Or maybe teachers could still be blamed for this computer program?

MR will have been here 4 years next month. Reading scores in 11th grade haven't budged in that time, not with a new curriculum and not with Read180. I guess they just hope that sooner or later those high 8th grade scores can last through 11th grade.

Questioner said...

Updated PPG article:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09205/986093-298.stm

The article points out that msny of the Excellence for All goals have not been met and that the Superintendent indicates that these goals were "heavy on the aspiration." At the time the goals were set, though, they seemed like real goals and accountability was mentioned.

deegazette said...

Anyone who states that the PG is the district's best buddy should read the article and rethink that stance. A great deal of the reporting could be easily mistaken for a very accurate post to this blog.

I watched the video of the the press conference. The term we hear a lot from the district is "pockets of greatness" and these stories are this year's pockets. Some schools are perennial pockets, like Liberty. What could have been said is that the results are not the best or what we had expected or hoped for, but the admiin is going to take a look at what went right at the schools reaching goals. What I really want to know is Did any of the featured schools veer off the prescribed path?

Each of the featured schools should turn their back to school event into a SALUTE TO OUR TEACHERS event. In the end, it isn't the curricula, or central administration, or the media, or the education consultants getting kids to proficiency, it is the staff in the building, getting kids to where they need to be.

Questioner said...

It is good to see the PG covering this story. It does look like it will be PURE's job (as with last year's Featured Topic on EFA goals to specify for how many goals there was significant progress, and for how many there was minimal progress.

Also it would be worth looking into changes in "pockets of greatness." Last year for example Westinghouse was a big success story. How did it do this year, and what is the reason for any change?

Lost Planet Airman said...

I will give some credit to the PG and Smydo for finally acting in a journalistically responsible way. Sorry, but this has not been the case during this administration's tenure.
That said, I can see why the schools mentioned are lauded (Carrick, etc.) But why the glowing words from Roosevelt? And don't scores expectations for proficiency go up this year? If schools can't achieve at 54% rates, how are they suddenly going to hit the 63% level?

catlady said...

This year's (2009)proficiency levels most likely will not be met. What should be interesting will be the scores for each school by category and PVAAS numbers. I guess we will have to wait for the full report. Are we sure schools like Allderdice and Schenley and CAPA haven't just hit their plateaus?

Mark Rauterkus said...

I would be sure to take the bet that the top schools have not hit their plateaus. There is a long way to go EVERYWHERE. I have some faith that the IB School / Schenley can be known as one of the top schools in the state & nation.

Frankly, Excellence for All needs to be begin with Some Excellence somewhere. Then it can be leveraged so as to spread to more places with more classroom and programs.

Questioner said...

Mark, this is a great goal, but what would make this IB program different/better than any other IB program?

Lost Planet Airman said...

As far as Mark's comments are concerned, isn't IB supposed to be the place where Pittsburgh's best students, teachers and principals/deans are located? Not sure what would denote it in higher esteem in comparison to other IB schools. One question...given Allderdice's trouble last year, would you think that some Dice parents, or prospective parents, would be looking to go the IB route instead?

Anonymous said...

The IB school will really have to establish itself in terms of college admission results and opportunities to play sports to attract large numbers of students who can go to Allderdice. Things are just so well established at Allderdice. It seems like they have gotten over the brawling incident.

Questioner said...

PG editorial:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09208/986587-192.stm

The editorial notes that 6 of the 7 grade levels tested did better in math than 4 years ago, and 5 of the 7 grade levels did better in reading.

This sounds like good news, but we need two more pieces of information:

1) Did the state as a whole do better on all or nearly all tests and if so was there a change in the level of difficulty of the tests? and

2) How much better, taking into account all 7 grade levels, was the average reading score and the average math score? A 10% gain, for example, would suggest real improvement, while a few percentage points might just be the result of the test being taken more seriously.

The editorial also suggests that EFA goals aimed high, but the original heading for these goals was "How We Will Hold Ourselves Accountable." What does accountability mean here?

Questioner said...

From the PG, the school board is expected to approve the usual 15k raise for the superintendent. The raise is apparently tied to goals that the board believes have been met, rather than to the EFA goals.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09208/986641-53.stm

Anonymous said...

Some interesting comments here. About the Allderdice question, I think it would be foolish to think the situation has been resolved. It's certainly more of a wait and see strategy than anything else. How can such a complex neighborhood issue be "solved" when over decades, the best efforts have come and failed? Let's hope the comment is right and that the new principal is as proactive as she can be.
I'm not so sure about the sports angle here as much as I am about safety. Many parents I know have had it with worrying. Given time, I think the college entrance process will work itself out but there is truth in the idea that Allderdice achievers still go places. It may take time for a new school to do the same.

Questioner, I was struck by the editorial on two fronts: one, they again go somewhat easy on Roosevelt despite not achieving the stated goals. Two, they again mention the word "overhaul" where high schools are concerned.

I've read the 5 year plan. I've seen the press conference regarding PSSA scores and MR's overall frustration with high schools. I've listened to him talk about being hard at work with planning for changes in high schools.

Now, I'm just wondering exactly what types of changes will bring achievement to all of our kids.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Roosevelt is not an educator; he is a politician and a businessman. As such, he knows that it is essential to have the media on his side. Facts and figures can be ignored or manipulated. If he were truly an educator, he would know that the most critical piece of this puzzle is the teachers. As a college student you know to pick the classes by who is teaching. A good teacher can overcome terrible curricula. Twenty years from now, will our kids look back and say, that textbook really made a difference in my life. I doubt it. But, my kid might say "Having Mr./Ms. ??? really changed me."

parentone said...

Anonymous 8:23 is correct about the importance of teachers in any student's success. My 11th grader had PSSA results beyond my expectations and the first thing she said when she saw her numbers was how great her English teacher was this past year. Next year's seniors are the first to have a full schedule and I know several kids who picked maths and sciences based on who would be teaching the classes. When 11th graders are interested in their futures enough to be concerned about who might be retiring, well...the only conclusion has to be that the kids know the value of a teacher.

Questioner said...

From the PG- Pennsylvania state students show across the board gains in reading and math.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09208/986716-100.stm

It will be interesting to see if PA students show comparable gains on national tests.

parentone said...

It will also be interesting to see if PPS results reflect state results. We might get a hint if we compare the few numbers from the PG article today with the numbers mentioned at the press conference.

Anonymous said...

Comparing the PPS results to the statewide results listed in the paper, it seems that the PPS did not do as well as the state overall. The PG stated that the statewide results were 71.3% at grade level for reading and 73.4% in math. The PPS results showed 56.9% at grade level in reading and 61.6% in math.

In addition, when you follow the 3rd grade of 2004-05 over 4 years, you will find that there is little to no progress made in test scores.

Questioner said...

We'll need to consider whether, even though PPS are lower, PPS has made progress over the last 4 years toward "closing the gap" between PPS and statewide scores.

PURE will be investigating and posting information on this issue.

Mick Ralphs said...

Thanks in advance for your research.I suspect you will find this administration and superintendent have done little except advance the Pittsburgh Promise. How this man could have been given yet another raise is beyond me and reflective of what happens when hairdressers and homemakers make up your school board.

Any PSSA gains did NOT come thanks to Mr.Roosevelt, nor did they come from his lieutenants in charge of scatterbrain curricula. It did not come from the efforts of principals. It came from the efforts of teachers and the work of students, period.

Annette Werner said...

Nothing will happen without hard work, that's for sure. And students need a plan, but for many it probably doesn't have to be an expensive plan.

When the superintendent arrived I sent him information about a series of elementary school math workbooks (one for each grade) and explained that with time and effort they had worked wonders for my daughter. After some months I received a nice letter of thanks noting that the information would be referred to a named administrator in charge of instruction, but it doesn't seem like anything ever came of it. I still think that for most kids this would do the trick as far as math goes!

amymoore said...

Mick, you might want to rethink your housewives comment (I don't speak for hairdressers). Several of us are extremely well-qualified to be on the PPS board. We are even smart enough to question the propaganda that is put forth in the news. I, for example, know that rising test scores do not mean a thing if the tests have been "dumbed down" in order to make everyone look better. Pittsburgh's position relative to the rest of the state will tell more of the story.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of propaganda, an article in the Post Gazette Business Section on CEO spin reported that "when new CEOs peper their initial message to shareholders with heavy doses of charismatic language, analysts tend to swallow at least some of it. Consequently, they offer more favorable- albeit more often inaccurate- earnings forecasts for the company involved."

The same probably goes for those listening to presentations on test scores!

Mick Ralphs said...

Sorry Amy, I have a healthy respect for most housewives, just not for the rubberstamping housewife who seems to have a lot of mysterious pull on the board. Actually, it's not so mysterious, really. We're about as backwoods as can be when it comes to such matters.

As for the business comment---agreed. In watching the press conference however, it's a shame though that so many seek to cozy up to the CEO by bestowing flowery comments about administrative philosophies, curriculum and PELA that you would be prone to take hands and sing "Kumbaya".