Monday, November 29, 2010

Community meeting about PPS athletics 11/30

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 from 6:00-8:00 PM
Reizenstein Facility in East Liberty
129 Denniston Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

PG article on the Pittsburgh Promise

The article seems to say that only about a quarter of the students graduating in 2008 and eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise actually used it, since some students go to school out of state and some do not go on to school at all. There doesn't seem to be any information on whether a higher percentage of students from the class of 2008 went on to school compared to previous graduating classes.

There is also a split concept mentioned, which seems to be new. Students who cannot meet the increased GPA requirements receive the amount of Promise money that was available under the old GPA requirements. Previously, the idea seemed to be that all Promise money would be subject to the new GPA requirements.

A's for good behavior

From the NYT:

Quote from a superintendent: "We need to stop overlooking kids who can do the work and falsely inflat[ing] grades of kids who can't but look good."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

PPS Budget

From the Tribune:

Per the article, the capital budget includes $427 for new projects.

Health violations at schools including some PPS

On another post Anonymous noted this link:

More open search for superintendent is urged

From the Tribune:

Shots fired at a school bus yesterday

From WPXI:

Monday, November 22, 2010

PURE Reform public hearing testimony

PPS Public Hearing Testimony
November 22, 2010
Kathy Fine

Good evening. I would like to start my testimony by once again thanking everyone in this room for their time dedicated to bettering the educational lives of the students in the PPS. I know that even though we might not agree on everything, we all do agree that a world-class education for all of our children is our common goal.

This evening, I’d like to discuss the support staff in our schools. Let me start by saying that I was not able to get staffing numbers on about 36% of our schools as they were not available on the PPS website, so I will just present the numbers for the schools for which I was able to get data.

We all know that many students have multiple and varied challenges facing them every day that hinder their “school readiness”. Whether it is suffering the effects of living in poverty, the divorce of their parents, being the object of bullying, or dealing with the effects of a learning disorder, many students need support in dealing with everyday struggles. Yet a cursory look at the staffing in our schools reveals that the PPS is woefully unprepared for assisting our children. Of the schools that listed staffing, I found the following:

• The ratio of nurse to student is 555 to 1
• The ratio of counselor to student is 450 to 1
• The ration of social worker to student is 1189 to 1
• The ratio of psychologist to student is 1280 to 1

In addition 45% of schools have no assistant principal, 83% have no parent engagement specialist and only 2 schools have a mentoring program.

We cannot hold teachers accountable when they do not have the support staff in their buildings and their students are not coming to class ready to learn. We cannot seriously address the underachievement of our students without understanding that learning is not only about math and reading. Many students, rich and poor and anywhere in between, come to school with heavy burdens that keep them from learning. When my son was having difficulty concentrating in school and organizing his time, my husband and I were fortunate enough to have the resources to get the counseling we needed to help us keep him on the correct educational path. Many in our public schools are not as fortunate and do not have the resources to gain this type of help.

I am asking, once again, that the policies of this board start to redirect the reform of our schools from the current top down method and make sure that resources are spent at the grassroots level, on our students and on services that directly benefit them. Only then will we help them to realize their potential and truly set them on the Pathway to the Promise.


PPS Public Hearing Testimony
November 22, 2010
Annette Werner

Good evening. For my testimony I will read a letter I wrote to the Broad Foundation.

November 4, 2010

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation - Education
10900 Wilshire Boulevard
Twelfth Floor
Los Angeles, California 90024

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Broad:

I am writing from Pittsburgh, where we have had a Broad superintendent for over 5 years.

As shown on the attached charts, the overall improvement in academic performance of the Pittsburgh Public School District during the past 5 years has if anything been less than the improvement in academic performance statewide. Year to year ups and downs at particular grade levels in Pittsburgh closely track year to year ups and downs in Pennsylvania as a whole, raising the question of whether changes in performance are the result of adjustments to the level of difficulty of the tests. This result comes despite an emphasis on testing like we have never seen before, at the expense of other areas such as sports, extracurricular activities and the arts.

I know that accountability is an important part of the Broad approach, so can you tell me: Are these results consistent with expectations for a Broad superintendent? Is there something that needs to be added to the training of these future superintendents? And can you tell us why, in selecting a new superintendent, we should again consider a Broad candidate?

Thank you,

Annette Werner

New featured topic posted

PPS/ State of PA PSSA 2010 Comparison is posted at

The green lines show EFA goals. Not all charts include EFA goals because EFA goals were not set for all grades and tests.

4 new charter schools applying to open in Pittsburgh

From the PG:

Principal bonuses awarded

From the PG:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Returns on Pittsburgh Promise investment

An editorial from the PG:

Some of the figures quoted are confusing. Is the source of the editorial information available- such as in the form of a report from the Pittsburgh Promise? The "research" section of the Promise just seems to have information from when the program first began, such as information about Kalamazoo's program.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Single gender academies at Westinghouse to be all choice

At the Board's recent meeting, it was clarified that the single academies at Westinghouse will be "all choice"- ie, they will not be the default assignment for any students, whether they live East of Negley or West of Negley. The default for families that make no choice is University Prep in the Hill District.

New program to certify nontraditional teachers

From the PG:

One candidate interviewed for superintendent position

From the Tribune:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Board statement on replacement of superintendent

From the PG:

"The executive committee stated: "We recognize the need to act thoughtfully and with urgency before year-end to ensure that the district has strong leadership in place to continue our commitment to advancing education reform initiatives, student achievement and teacher effectiveness efforts already underway."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Teachers Project

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"What is known about The New Teacher's Project (TNTP)?

Has this TNTP begun yet in Pittsburgh?

Who is managing and organizing the project?

What is the cost and estimated time period?

Where has it been effective? How? Why? But what measure/"

Monday, November 15, 2010

"City schools get mixed grades in annual report"

PG article about this year's A+ Schools report:

Friday, November 12, 2010

"Wish list" for new superintendent from the A+ meeting

From the Tribune:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dropout prevention at Clayton features a SHORTER school day

From the New Pittsburgh Courier:

- No mention of Community Education Partners (CEP); it is not clear from the article if CEP is still at the Clayton building.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More changes to proposed plan for the East End

From the Tribune:

- A change to make the Westinghouse single gender academies seems like a wise move. At the time of the original proposal, PURE and many others recommended that if single gender academies had to be put in place over other options like a top notch CTE academy, they should be all-city magnets. Probably a practical move, too- most likely the admin realizes they need to attract more students to avoid underenrollment. It is not clear if Westinghouse will be a feeder school for any students.

- Moving up the move of IB to Peabody to Fall 2011- not a wise move. Families of current 11th grade students were promised that because those students already had to switch buildings after 9th grade, they would stay at Reizenstein through graduation. Also not wise because it does not allow for much needed renovations. The IB Committee conditioned its recommendation on the addition of natural light to the building.

Makeup class being offered to keep failing grades off records

From the PG:

From the article:

"At five Pittsburgh high schools next semester, students who are failing a core course will have a new way to catch up: two-hour, after-school classes, twice a week.... Students may enroll in one or two classes, Mondays and Wednesdays for one class and Tuesdays and Thursdays for the other."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Proficiency gap greater than expected

From the NYT, the proficency gap between black and white students is greater than expected:

The article discusses a new report to be released by the Council of the Great City Schools showing that black males not eligible for free/reduced lunch "are doing no better than white males who are poor."

The article notes that the report discusses the importance of early childhood parenting practices but not reforms such as "closing failing schools, offering charter schools as alternatives and raising the quality of teachers." The executive director of the council explains that there is "not a lot of research indicating that these [reform] strategies produce better results."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reminder- Baptist ministers' discussion today

The topic: Are Pittsburgh Public School Students getting the best education possible?

From the Tribune:

"The Baptist Ministers Conference of Pittsburgh on Monday will host a community meeting to discuss public education in Pittsburgh.

The meeting will start at 6:15 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Speakers will be limited to three minutes and are asked to bring a copy of their testimony.

The hearing is meant to gather feedback about whether Pittsburgh Public Schools students are getting the best education possible.

To sign up, call 412-731-6242."

$14M green renovation planned for Northview

From the PG:

"Beyond the energy savings, Chris Berdnik, chief financial/chief operations officer for Pittsburgh Public Schools, said green buildings have the potential to increase academic performance.

"There's a significant amount of research that kids learn best when there's good natural classroom light and excellent indoor air quality," said Mr. Berdnik."

- So what are the plans for the other schools that don't have natural light?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Op ed piece about behaviorally challenged students

From the PG:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tracking and cluster grouping

From another post:

Anonymous said...
Tracking and cluster group discussion participants, I have a question based on my own limited experience with a recent middle schooler (now in high school). I remember the groupings came about in middle grades when intervention time was rolled out to improve literacy. Are cluster groups operating across more subject areas and beyond what I am familiar with at the middle grade level? That would give a lot of parents of special education students something to investigate.

November 6, 2010 3:17 PM
Questioner said...
It would be nice if the school district would promptly answer this type of request for information.

Can someone try emailing to the parent hotline

November 6, 2010 3:57 PM
Anonymous said...
Regarding "CLUSTER GROUPING" - As reported previously on this blog, “The Total School Cluster Grouping Model” (TSCG) was presented to the Board at the 9/27/10 Education Meeting by Cate Reed and Allison McCarthy.

The stated reason for the presentation was “*Board Authorization Sought”

The “Cluster Grouping” model was compared to the “Traditional Model”

Following are QUOTATIONS taken directly from the “GIFTED and TALENTED PILOT UPDATE” power point presentation:

“Whole school approach to student placement”

“Students are “cluster grouped” by achievement level”

“The majority of students remained in the same Achievement Category”

“Minimizes the range of abilities in each class so teachers are better able to differentiate, but does not result in one achievement group per class.”

“Allows more students to shine among their peers.”

PILOT SCHOOLS listed were Colfax ALA, Northview ALA, Fort Pitt ALA, Dilworth K-5, Grandview K-5

P.S. This should be another BLOG and this MODEL should be fodder for the "tracking" and "ability grouping" debate

November 6, 2010 6:03 PM
Anonymous said...
Since the Achievement Gap between Black and White students at two of the"CLUSTER GROUPING" PILOT schools are as follows, it takes us back the Red Bird and Blue Birds “ability groupings” within every classroom.

Achievement Gap at Colfax in Reading is 41% and at Grandview the GAP is 27%: thus, the racial segregation in these classroom would be egregiously obvious to ALL.

What happened to the POLICY against this type of "ability grouping"?

Please read Jeanne Oakes on Tracking: How Schools Structure inequality”

November 6, 2010 6:40 PM

Baptist minsters sponsor community meeting for Monday

The topic: Are Pittsburgh Public School Students getting the best education possible?

From the Tribune:

"The Baptist Ministers Conference of Pittsburgh on Monday will host a community meeting to discuss public education in Pittsburgh.

The meeting will start at 6:15 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Speakers will be limited to three minutes and are asked to bring a copy of their testimony.

The hearing is meant to gather feedback about whether Pittsburgh Public Schools students are getting the best education possible.

To sign up, call 412-731-6242."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Opportunity for input on PPS sports programs

From the PG:

Thursday, November 4, 2010


From the PG:

All very nice, but has it had any impact on student achievement or enrollment?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bans on profanity

From the Tribune: