Tuesday, August 4, 2009

IB accreditation received

From today's PG:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09216/988359-298.stm

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

It has only taken 6? years to get the accreditation. I wonder how they explained the extremely high turn-over rate of Frick's faculty. Many of the best teachers have left. I think the only world language teacher with more than 2 year's experienceat the school is the Japanese teacher. I was told by a Schenley teacher that the diploma program could lose its accreditation if more than 6 teachers leave, so teacher stability is considered to be important. With the way that teachers have been treated during this transition, I would not blame more for leaving.

Anonymous said...

How have they been treated? I thought this accreditation process was a success on its first try. Instead, your comments tend to disparage what I thought was fine work at the school. As for your Schenley friend, could it be that there is some trepidation about the fate of Schenley itself? This sounds like a lot of sour grapes or at least, needs some explanation.

Anonymous said...

Also, you make mention about many of the "best" teachers having left. IB from 6 through 9 and now 10 have many, many great teachers. Just what is your agenda here?

PPSparent said...

There have been many teachers who have left from the middle school. Language teachers in particular have had a revolving door. The best math teacher my kids ever had and they've had several good ones, left for a different PPS.

This fall many teachers are teaching new classes, rather than those they have honed over the years, due to the IB program being treated as two separate entities, until the two years of Schenley are out.

They were supposed to be accredited last year -- no news story when that didn't happen, huh? As far as I know they have been working on this, for real, for at least three years.

There have also been some horrendous choices as to people put in positions of managing others -- you don't put "non-people people" in charge of motivating and encouraging people -- teachers, parents or students. Turns out it doesn't work well and you get people going in all different directions and angry about it, to boot.

PPSparent said...

Trepidation about the fate of Schenley?!

It's gone, just has two years of slow death before then. Believe me, parents and teachers and students know that the time for "trepidation" has long since passed.

The explanation would be someone asking IB about that requirement -- is there or isn't there a rule about how many teachers leave in a year.

Anonymous said...

This is all news to me. It's a shame the info cannot be a little more specific.
There is turnover at every school and obviously, as IB expands teachers are going to be added. I tend to look at IB as a shining star of this district, but it appears a few folks have reservations. I'd like to know more. Why the turnover? What "managers" are we talking about?

Anonymous said...

parent, I was once at a school that lost 11 teachers in one year...9 because of transfers and 2 to retirement. The nine had issues with the principal.

Questioner said...

Something that does come up a lot is concern that the old IB program (ie, Schenley program) is being treated as second class as it "fades away."

Aside from serious concerns about equity, there would also seem to be valid concerns about whether neglect at the upper grade level will have lasting negative effects as the "new" program expands.

Anonymous said...

anon9:53, even thought this is supposedly an anonymous board, many of us are afraid to be too specific. I still have a kid in school. We active parents are aware of many problems and potential problems. Hopefully, in a few years the dust will settle and IB will be the wonderful program that they are touting.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:59, I certainly understand your feelings. This is somewhat shocking to me. I am no fan of MR or his administration, but I had the feeling that there were still a few schools that were doing it right: CAPA, Allderdice (at least, partly), IB at Frick and now Reizenstein. I'd heard nothing but positive and knowing the nature of the "business" as I do, always looked at teacher transfers as being something you see everywhere because it is always an idea that the grass is greener somewhere else. This is a surprise.

Anonymous said...

IB at least has somewhat of a cushion because they have to meet the standards of the international governing body. MR can't mess with the curriculum too much. Unfortunately, they are not consulting with the IB coordinators in some of the decision making and instead of working together to make a good experience for all of the kids, it seems like a turf war is on the horizon. I don't think "sour grapes" is the most accurate term but I will admit to being a disgruntled Schenley parent who feels like my kid is being stuffed in a corner of the building until he graduates.

Questioner said...

A really top-notch administration will take pains not to favor its new programs to the detriment of students finishing in programs or schools that are being phased out.

Anonymous said...

The last of the SCHENELY IB students ARE BEIING STUFFFFFFED IN A CORNER. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Does anyone care, has anyone spoke to these kids??? Why not?

Anonymous said...

"Stuffed in a corner"???? You really ought to have a little bit of info before you whine. Why not say the same about the incoming IB program? In your definition, they are being stuffed in a corner, too.
Look, this administration should have worked to keep Schenley open, no doubt. The building will belong to Pitt as soon as the rancor diminishes a bit more. But don't demonize the IB program in the process.

Questioner said...

"Stuffed in a corner" may refer not only to the physical location of the progam but also to perceptions as to treatment, teacher assignments, funding, etc. But more specifics by people with firsthand knowledge would help.

Anonymous said...

Questioner, you're right. I would wonder how we are to get more details, however. No one wants to talk these days out of fear for their own livelihood or fear about their kids. Who can blame them? Sad to say, that's no way to run a taxpayer-financed district.

Anonymous said...

Stuffed in a corner is probably a BIT of an exaggeration. But what do you think is going to happen in that building with kids that range in age from 11 to 18? The senior high kids will more than likely be restricted to the second floor front hall so that they don't scare the little kids. If I were the parent of a 6th grader, I would demand that the kids be kept separate. We have already been told that the seniors will be eating lunch at 10 am. Yeah, I know, the 9th graders had a 10 am lunch this year. That doesn't make it ok. I know that this is just a temporary fix until the new school is chosen, etc. Unfortunately, my kid only has one chance of a senior year and it is looking pretty grim. I know that some compromises needed to be made but I think after losing their school some attempts should have been made to try to make the final year(s) of Schenley a little less painful.

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what was promised?

Anonymous said...

If they couldn't get the 9th graders eating later when there were only 4 grades at Frick, I don't know what they plan on doing when there are 7 grades at the IB school and they've said they'll be kept apart. Can the older kids, say, even get to gym/pool etc. without passing by the center part?

That's not even getting into how middle school and high school sports teams are going to be divvying up facilities that were already fully used for one school.

Questioner said...

Or how middle school and high school groups will share with Peabody the one auditorium available for plays/musicals.

Anonymous said...

anon 3:57, I am not sure what promise you are referring to. I guess it really doesn't matter because the answer is "yes", that is what was promised. We were all promised many things and that is the problem. As taxpayers, we were promised that there would be no new taxes and the budget would be balanced. As parents and city residents, we were told that scores would go up and that the racial gap would be lessened. CAPA parents were promised a showcase school that would attract kids from outside the city. Frick 9th graders were promised that the ground floor would be renovated for them into a fabulous site and they would be able to participate fully in all high school ECs. We were told that the front of Reizenstein would be renovated to house the middle years program and the Schenley IB would have the rear. I could go on and on and on. The reality is that the city and school have limited resources. If you put those resources into bringing up test scores and ignore your high achieving students, they will walk--to the private schools, charters, or suburban schools that will give those high achievers the best chance at the best colleges. If you put the resources too much toward the high achievers, the low achievers fall further behind. And in spite of what MR thinks, not everyone thinks the Pittsburgh Promise is the answer to all of the ills of the city schools.

Anonymous said...

I tend to think of IB as an interesting angle in the district. It's going to be interesting to watch the progression. It's too bad about Schenley and the poor decisions made. I think the frustration plays into the talk here.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Schenley stuff helped, but the IS/IB parents have been begging for changes, simple changes, to protect and strengthen the program for years, to no avail. I think that has a lot more to do with frustration here.

Anonymous said...

It probably would be helpful to survey some students who completed the 6-8 program in the last 5 yrs and some who completed the 11-12 program in the last five years to learn what was valuable, what was not, what could work better and how, what issues did they have, etc.

amymoore said...

The IS cluster group was reformed in 2005 before Mr, Roosevelt was hired. Our meetings at that time focused on the problems that we as parents and teachers saw in the IS magnet program. We had lists of suggestions to improve the program and many of those solutions required little or no extra money. I sadly fear that our suggestions were ignored in favor of splashy media events and promises that have not been fulfilled.

Questioner said...

Do you still have a copy of the lists? Maybe they can be updated and resubmitted, now that there is a new program, principal, etc.

amymoore said...

By coincidence, my project for today is to sort all of my school folders that have been multiplying on my desk. Hopefully, I can recover those files which I think were on my old computer. Much of our original work was done through Frick's PSCC so Dr. Walters is very familiar with our concerns.

Parent 37 said...

As a parent and taxpayer, I am a little confused by all of this. I thought IB was specific to Frick. Schenley apparently had it too? I understand what's happening to Schenley as a school. What is happening to its teaching staff, IB and otherwise? I understand the middle years of IB. Is there already a program for diploma years or is this coming next year? Does IB have its own curriculum apart from the PPS?
This is all very confusing to me.

amymoore said...

The IB diploma programme has been at Schenley for more than 25 years. Check out the IB website. http://www.ibo.org for more information.

Schenley IB has excellent faculty but because of the small size of the program, staffing is becoming an issue. When Schenley was a magnet within the larger schools, teachers taught IB and mainstream. Now that Schenley is only 2 grades, teachers are being squeezed out. Some will be able to teach at the 6-10 IB school. A fairly complicated requirement of IBD and/or MYP training was required for placement.
As to the question of curriculum, IBD does have its own curriculum requirements in order to take the IB exams. In some instances, city or state requirements have precedence (physics is required of all juniors).

Questioner said...

For years, Schenley hosted an IB program for grades 11-12. Most students participating would take all or almost all of the IB classes. These were different from classes in other PPS. It seems like in a typical year maybe 20 would earn a full diploma, which involved obtaining a certain score at the end of year IB exams and doing a special paper, and maybe another 20 would earn a certificate (these seemed to be mainly students who decided not to take one of the IB classes, for ex math, did not do the paper, or did not score high enough on the exams to earn the diploma). Other area high schools w/ the IB program were Upper St. Clair and Vincentian Academy.

Frick in contrast has an International Studies Program, building on the elementary school International Studies Program. That was PPS-specific, as opposed to IB which is sponsored by an international organization.

Questioner said...

Should have said- Frick HAD an IS program.

Now there will be a middle year IB program 6-10 replacing the Frick 6-8 IS program.

Questioner said...

Editorial in the PG praising the district for obtaining acreditation.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09218/988912-192.stm

Anonymous said...

The article says the middle years program is similarly challenging as the upper grade IB program, but others have said it is not very difficult- maybe because in Europe students separate into career and noncareer paths at age 16.

Anonymous said...

I take it that you mean students separate into university-bound and non-university bound/technical career paths at a certain point.

I found the editorial to be reassuring. I believe the program is in itself challenging for students when executed properly, and it would seem that it is being done right.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope so!

amymoore said...

I will start by saying that I do not have much knowledge of MYP, only my experience at Frick during the 3 years that my son was there. Although it was announced when he was in 6th grade, much of the implementation was delayed due to the unfortunate sick leave of the first director. Until she officially retired, Dr. Walters could not hire a new director. I have also spent quite of lot of time looking at the official IB site, studying both the IBD and MYP. With the IBD, outside sources monitor progress through tests and grading papers. If the teachers are not getting the material across to the students, the failure rate will increase. The experienced teachers know what to expect from the exams and make sure that the material is taught. It is rigorous. Does this happen at the MYP level? How high will the standards be set and who determines if those standards are met?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Rigorous? You want rigor? Then let's play water polo!

=:0

Practice starts on Monday, Aug 10, at 11 am at Ammon Rec Center, 2216 Bedford Ave. M-F to 12:30 pm.

Thanks for the pointer to the editorial above.

Anonymous said...

You know, perhaps one should wonder about Mark's mental health.

Questioner said...

He adds a welcome light note!

Anonymous said...

-- You know, perhaps one should wonder about Mark's mental health. --

Roosevelt?

Anonymous said...

Apologies for the last comment. It was meant to be funny and after watching the news tonight.....isn't.