Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evaluation of changes over the past 5 years

On another post Anonymous wrote:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "PPS management team and salary raises announced":

Let's make a list of changes that happened in the last 5 years and how many were successful...

I can think of one that was an improvement:

The Parent Hotline

Cost: I imagine it doesn't cost a whole lot to run -- someone to send the questions/complaints/concerns out and to gather their responses and relay them to parents. Keep notes of interactions.

Other changes:

ALA program
K-8 model
6-12 model
University Prep model
Non-transparent magnet lottery


Questioner said...

Other changes to consider:

Greatly expanded marketing and PR
Sci Tech school
IB school
PFT contract changes

Anonymous said...

Greatly expanded marketing and PR

I can remember parents asking for more/better PR when the Roosevelt administration began. However, they were asking for PR to get the word out about already successful schools and programs.

Instead we've seen many programs that were good decimated by the changes listed here (new models, new curriculum, ALAs, PELAs etc.)

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see stats on UPrep. They're the kids who had been "overshadowed" at old Schenley, according to Lopez and Roosevelt. Are these students doing exceptionally well now that there's a laser beam focus on them? Are they doing better than they had been doing at Old Schenley?

If they were doing better, I'd expect our improved PR machine to be making a huge deal out of this to prove all those noisy troublesome Schenley parents wrong. Instead, I hear nearly NOTHING about UPrep beyond the booing incident.

anony said...

Re: Hotline-at times very helpful IF they already have the answer to the question. Other times-you could be just referred to the allegeded responsible department. At the beginning parents thought the hotline would be the entity to avoid ever being passed on to the next "buck." The pass does not always occur, would that mean some depts are easier for the hotline to deal with?

PR-Good news posted to main page is value-added. Schools need to free up a staff person's time to keep their own news up-to-date. Building sites rarely contain an accurate calendar or much in the way of upcoming events. Don't think of this as a complaint, to do a good job takes time, more than a teacher can provide during a duty period probably.

Disgruntled said...

Are these students doing exceptionally well now that there's a laser beam focus on them? Are they doing better than they had been doing at Old Schenley?

Well, old Schenley's 11th graders last year made AYP, the only HS to do so. UPrep is on the state's failing schools list. I think that pretty much sums up the whole situation.

This year's PSSA's will be the first time that UPrep will have an 11th grade tested -- those are the kids that would have been the next year at Schenley. They've not been PSSA tested since 8th grade, since 9th and 10th aren't tested.

NEXT year the excuse will be that they took in all the students from Peabody and Westinghouse, this year, they don't have *that* excuse.

Anonymous said...

The PSSA stats for U-PREP are very disheartening.

Reading Proficiency is at 37% and Math Proficiency is at 39%.

That means that more than 60% of U-PREP students are NOT PROFICIENT in READING and MATH.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Don't forget, PPS got onto Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Improvement: The Elementary reading curriculum. Sadly, that's all I can come up with...

PPSParent said...

I'd have to disagree with the elementary reading curriculum. In substance it was little different than the previous new curriculum that Thompson put in -- two different companies but pretty much the same substance. So big waste of money.

But the part that makes it worse now is the (required) testing. The tests were horrendous to begin with and it's been only gradually that they've gotten rid of some of the most obviously wrong answers.

The reading selections on the tests in the earliest grades barely make sense, let alone to a new reader. One I remember describes a family meeting at a bakery before the ballgame, to buy a cake to eat during the game. What? I mean I understand the words, but who walks to a bakery before a football game and buys a layer cake? Did they bring plates and a cake server too? Did they just dig in with their hands? Honestly, these are the kinds of things that a kid can think about for many valuable minutes of the test!

Have you ever seen kindergarteners trying to take a multiple choice test of several pages stapled at the corner? It's insanity. Flipping to the right page takes longer than answering the question on that page!

anonanon said...

Let's jump from Kindergarten to high school now. Recent grads now in college say:

don't expect to do well in a language unless you came from a language magnet

some believe taking fewer tests would have allowed for more learning time and prepared them for college better. I think they mean both structured and unstructured learning time. there apparently should have been more time devoted to free-flowing, meaningful, relevant discussion. Toss the 4sights.

Anonymous said...

Language magnets? Students from a French magnet were just telling me yesterday that the teacher taught the same thing over and over. Colors. Foods.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the last five years of changes in PPS curriculum, and in teaching, learning and assessment practices are in direct DEFIANCE of the "Learning Theories" long held and taught at Universities and Teaching Colleges.

These 'corporate-level' changes, as scripted, provide little opportunity for contextually-relevant, standards-based, critical-thinking “teachable moments” that are essential to the learning process and academic achievement.

The vast body of literature and respected research in education does not support the current changes in PPS at any level K-12 Education. (The exception might be Early Childhood Education.)

It has happened because the corporate world now controls “schooling” in PPS.

Anonymous said...

The last five years? The effort to squelch the voice of the teacher in the education process has been accomplished, both figuratively and literally. Sad times.

Mark Rauterkus said...