A+ Schools Program Info
QUESTIONS ABOUT PLANS FOR HIGH SCHOOL RECONFIGURATION
A+ Schools strongly advocates that the Pittsburgh Public Schools provide more information on the proposed high school reconfiguration plan in the form of at least one community briefing before voting on any part of this plan.
We observed the June 21st Education Committee meeting, reviewed the materials and met informally with administrators and we believe many important questions are still left unanswered. In fact, we submitted a list of questions to the administration and school board to try to gain a better understanding of exactly what is being proposed.
Our questions and concerns fall into the following categories:
(+) Choice: What is the intended model of choice PPS is trying to achieve and by what mechanism will families be asked to chose?
(+) Equity: How do the proposed plans contribute to the district's vision of equity - policies based on the belief that effort creates ability and with the goal of eliminating the achievement gap?
(+) Alignment: How are the CTE, EET, and Excel 9.12 plan aligned operationally to achieve the same goals?
(+) Feeder Patterns: What are the implications for school size based on the proposed changes in the East End feeder patterns?
We would expect that parents and other stakeholders would have equally valuable, important and possibly different questions and concerns. Tell us what questions you have. We urged the district to create time for those questions to be surfaced and addressed and to build public support for whatever changes are pursued.
While high school reform planning has been going on for three years; the specifics of the current plan have only come to the general public's attention in the past few weeks. We commend the district's efforts to engage a group of stakeholders in developing this plan, but more public understanding and comment is essential. Further, the planning group consisted primarily of East End interest and the changes presented impact the entire district.
A plan of this size and scope deserves a thorough public vetting prior to a legislative vote by the school board. We urged the school board to convene at least one, but preferably several community information sessions before voting on any portion of this plan. More information will allow the community to offer meaningful feedback at future public hearings.
Questions regarding the Excel 9-12 Plan:
What is the intended model of high school choice that PPS is trying to achieve and by what mechanism will families be asked to choose?
• What is the combination of feeder/magnets/CTE/other programs that PPS is trying to achieve?
• What is the final version of high schools that PPS plans to have by 2015? For each secondary school, what is the configuration, academic program, magnet program, CTE program housed in the school?
• What is the mechanism for students to choose magnets other programs? What is the choice mechanism for each CTE regional cluster? How can these be aligned for parents/families to navigate through them easily?
• If a student feeds into a school with a CTE program, is that student automatically enrolled in the CTE program?
• If Robotics is no longer a magnet and it is housed in the IB School, which is a magnet, how will students that are not part of the IB School be able to access Robotics?
• Currently Oliver, University Prep, Langley and Brashear are listed as partial magnets. Will those schools remain that way or will those magnet options be eliminated or replaced?
In what way is the district’s policy regarding equity reflected in the Excel 9-12 plan?
• How does this plan work specifically towards closing the achievement gap?
• If Oliver is the only feeder school in the north side and the only drop-out/ credit recovery school in PPS how will other students in the city be able to opt-in to Oliver? Is there evidence that the feeder pattern for Oliver has the highest concentration of students at risk of dropping out?
• Is it equitable or lawful to make a single-gender school (Westinghouse) the default choice for a select group of students?
• In what way is the CTE programming in each regional cluster easily accessible to ALL students?
• If Westinghouse is a single-gender school with consumer sciences and health CTE programs, how can we ensure gender equity in those CTE programs while not undermining the qualities of a successful single-gender program?
What is the rationale for changing the east end feeder pattern to be Negley Ave?
• How is Milliones considered under-enrolled when it was intentionally created to serve a specific number of students in the district? Were the residency projections wrong or did fewer students choose Milliones than expected? Moving forward, how can we ensure that enrollment projections for new schools are as accurate as possible as to not create under-enrolled schools?
• How do plans for Uprep change with an expanded feeder pattern since it wasn’t intended to have that large of a student population?
• University Prep was planned before there was consideration for students from the Westinghouse or Peabody feeder pattern. It is currently listed as a partial magnet in the district. What work has been done to ensure that University Prep has enough room to accommodate the entire proposed feeder pattern west of the Negley Ave while remaining a partial magnet? If choice is open to students from both the former Peabody and Westinghouse feeder patterns for University Prep, how can we know that all students who choose University Prep will fit?
How is the proposed CTE plan, the EET plan and the Excel 9-12 plan aligned?
• How is the proposed CTE plan, the EET plan elements (including the extra period accounted for in the collective bargaining agreement and career ladder roles) and the Excel 9-12 plan aligned?
• Who is responsible for managing the conjunction of these plans and coordinate their joint implementation?
• How will the proposed “extended day and extended year” at Oliver be addressed in collective bargaining?
• Perry, Langley and Brashear were targeted for transformation and will be implementing RISE, the Promise Readiness Corps and focusing on Teaching and Learning Environment; however Carrick was left off of any list and it is in Corrective Action 2 (while Langley and Brashear are only in Corrective Action 1) and the transformation strategies are part of the EET plan that are supposed to be implemented in every school. Was Carrick left out intentionally or was it an error? The same question applies to Allderdice where the EET plan was also planned to be implemented.
• If Oliver and Westinghouse are targeted for turnaround and half the staff can stay and there must be new leadership in the building, in what way will those teachers be chosen to stay in accordance with the priorities in the EET plan?
• The CTE program proposal in March stated that roughly 10% of students in a district enroll in CTE and that the entire CTE program was intended to serve between 600-800 students. If feeder schools with CTE programs automatically enroll students in CTE, does the CTE program have the capacity to offer programming at that scale? Conversely, if the anticipated enrollment in CTE is 600-800, how can we ensure that we are offering a full complement of programming in each region while making best use of our funds?
• What makes the Health, IT, Business and Finance and Culinary CTE programs at Oliver different that the CTE programs in the east and west/south cluster for Oliver’s programs to be named career academies?