Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Proposed change to GPA requirement for participation in sports and activities

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Despite the Pittsburgh Public School District’s requirement that students participating in athletic programs have a 2.0 grade point average, schools have been allowing students to slip through.

In an effort to remedy this inequity and as part of an overall review of the district’s policy manual, the school board will vote at the end of the month to lower the required grade point average to 1.5 for the 2011-2012 school year.
“We know there hasn’t been a consistent across the board use of the policy. The 2.0 is what’s required and what has been required. In order to not unfairly disadvantage students they’re given this probationary period to get their GPA up,” said Ebony Pugh, public relations coordinator for the PPS. “We know it wasn’t followed consistently across the schools. There were students we know who were participating without a 2.0.”

Under the new policy, up for vote by the board at a July 26 meeting, students with a 1.5-1.99 grade point average will be placed on probation, but allowed to continue participating in athletic programs. District 8 School Board Representative Mark Brentley said this policy may keep students from earning a Pittsburgh Promise scholarship which requires students to have a 2.5 grade point average.

“If the Pittsburgh Public Schools require a 2.0, but you are now dropping it to a 1.5, everyone knows that the majority of students who participate in athletics are African-American. If you are now taking a whole segment in the district out and disqualifying them because you’re lowered their requirements, that’s racism,” Brentley said. “It is a lazy educators way to address the large issues with this race gap. I believe it is also a way to take students out of ever qualifying for the Pittsburgh Promise.”

This revision is one of several being considered by the school board as part of the board policy committee’s review of district policies that have not been revised since 1990. The district says the goal is also to make the policy manual more user friendly.

“I don’t know where you got the information about changing grade point averages,” said William Isler, board vice president, when asked about the changes by the New Pittsburgh Courier. “This is a process that we’ve been going through with the board for about three or four years to redo the policy manual. It has not been redone since the early 90s. Everything we do obviously is geared to the goals of the board including student achievement.”

Students placed on probation under the revised policy will have to complete an academic intervention program. Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the grad point average requirement will be raised to 2.0.

“Even in the colleges there are basically things that students must be able to do. You can outrun the speed of sound but there are things you must be able to do. One coach told me we know we can get good athletes but if we had our chance, we’d like to get a well-rounded human being as well,” Brentley said. “We should be the last ones lowering the bar. It goes against this whole thing of excellence for all.”
It is anticipated that the board will vote on the proposed revisions to Section 100 at its July 27 legislative meeting."


Anonymous said...

If you follow Mr. Brentley's thinking (majority African-American)how the heck does this close the achievement gap?

Anonymous said...

Board to Lower GPA

Questioner said...

GPA's at Westinghouse are said to be really low. The same is probably true at U Prep. Could the reason for the change be that under the current standard the schools could not field teams or get enough participants in activities, which would be a problem since the "full range of middle school and high school sports" were promised?

Anonymous said...

Isn't the WPIAL gpa requirement at 1.5? When I had kids in school it was my understanding that PPS exceeded minimun requirements.

Wow, wondering now if my school might have been more of a contender if we would have had coaches who did NOT apply the rule!

Anonymous said...

How wonderfully American! Athletics over academics. You have to love the priorities.

Anonymous said...

The problem is NOT, or should not be, about "fielding teams."

The ONLY way to CLOSE the "Achievement Gap" is to raise the standard of teaching and learning in our schools.

Mark Brentley is "right on" in his remarks.

NEVER LOWER the STANDARDS or the EXPECTATIONS in academics. Treat academics equal with athletics.

Students who CAN meet the standards in athletics CAN meet the standards in academics! Those who doubt this???Shame!

Questioner said...

They should be able to meet a 2.0, but many, many are not. One problem is poor attendance. Could PPS be concerned that sticking w/ 2.0 could make teams unavailable even for students who do have the required GPA's, due to lack of enough team members?

Questioner said...

Remember that an explanation given for closing a school like Peabody, with maybe 400 high school students, was that it could not offer the same opportunities as a larger school. It would be ironic if larger schools were created but opportunities for sports and activities remained the same.

Anonymous said...

Question for anonymous: how do you raise the standard of teaching when it is governed by a horrendous managed curriculum in PPS that dictates every step a teacher must take?

Please explain.


Anonymous said...

How exactly does lowering the GPA fit with the vision of high standards called for in the Excellence for All.

A sad day in Pittsburgh.

Anonymous said...

1.5? Is that D+ or C-? It is loud and clear that PPS has no interest in improving the quality of education. How much money was paid for this symbolic waving of a white flag?

Central administration and the school board should be ashamed of themselves. I can't wait until they all get bonuses for increasing sports participation in the fall.

We have been swindled and it isn't going to stop.

Yes, Excellence for All ______________. Fill in the blank.

Anonymous said...

You all are missing the boat. Yes, lower the gpa and get more students involved. Then we can, hopefully, get them to "buy in" to school and raise their gpa. This is where our athletic coaches are mentors. Otherwise, we are losing any chance we have of getting these young people involved in school at some level. Athletics may be the only "carrot" to even start these students on the "Promise" path. Lowering the gpa is not racist Mr. Brentley. It, if applied correctly, may actually keep ALL students involved in academics.

A "good" coach looks out for all aspects of their student-athletes' lives. Winning games is not what it is all about. You want all your athletes to be winners in the game of life.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

4:50 - You've asked the critical question.

Clearly, lowering the standards will eliminate all other opportunities for these students. It makes no sense at all, unless the purpose is to eliminate or limit post secondary options and opportunities.

Students always rise to the expectations of those with whom their is mutual trust.

What is being communicated here is just the opposite; and given the greater population to which this applies, there is an "r" word that covers the outcome.

Anonymous said...

Standard should not be lowered

Education first

Mark Rauterkus said...

8:29 pm is spot on.

This is about drop out prevention.

I favor the increase in coaching.

The 1.5 as well as the 2.0 is not about excellence, but about for all.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone realize that a 9th-10th grader that reads at a 3rd grade level is not going to transform into a 1.5 student while participating in sports. In a short 3-4 years. This is not "The Blindside".

We have to catch these kids by 3rd grade, invest in sports, music or dance at that level, engage them and that kid has a much better chance of success in high school.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for these kids and their educators. I imagine some kids have parents that don't care.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see some more information.

Did the PPS schools that by Ebony's admission weren't enforcing the GPA requirements show significantly lower dropout rates for the periods of time they were not enforcing the 2.0 requirement?

Did the student athletes allowed to play at 1.5 instead of 2.0 make significant academic progress or not?

PPS has the data, let's see them produce the regressions that either support lowering the standard or not. No need to hypothesize if there were enough students already playing at a lower GPA. Show us the results.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Why is this not "Blideside?"

That young man comes to Pittsburgh to play each year.

This can be The Blideside, and it has been for some.

I do agree that the younger, elementary age kids, need to be into sports and arts and music and community. Some of that happens in schools. Most of it happens outside of the schools. I'm fine with club activities that go outside the realm of PPS or act in cooperation with PPS and Citiparks and PPS facilities.

But still, we can grow a great fleet of younger athletes and scholars, and have them get to the high school ages and see them all migrate out to the suburban schools. (i.e., The Blindside again).

So, we need to reform HS sports as well. Otherwise, the efforts with the wee ones won't deliver fruit for our schools and communities and families and kids.

HS Sports has been "The Blind Side" of our schools for far too long.

Furthermore, to be in a play, one does NOT need a 2.0. To be in a marching band, one does not need a 2.0.

To line up on the field as an opponent, with a WPIAL school, one does not need a 2.0.

Anonymous said...

As a coach, I have had athletes who were ineligible, work hard in the classroom to become eligible. Many even went on to college (not on an athletic scholarship)and became successful off the playing field.

Lower the standard and engage all of our students. Everyone talks about being "Promise Ready." How many of our students really are/become "Promise Ready?" Stop kidding yourselves people. Alot of this "Promise Ready" business is just more PPS PR. We are losing families from our school system despite the "Promise."

Mark Brentley mentions racism. Our school system is a majority of African-Americans. To raise the standard eliminates African-Americans from athletics from the get go. Engage our A-A, tutor and nurture them. Don't discriminate against them. (or any of our students for that matter)

Raising the standard doesn't necessarily raise the academic bar. I have seen coaches and even administrators facilitate grade changes and/or pressure teachers into changing grades.

Questioner said...

A 2.0 is required to participate in musicals.

Anonymous said...

Two of PPS' athletes just left for the WPIAL. I'll bet more will follow. Our City League is a disgrace now. Mark is right. Unless there is an overhaul of the high school athletic program, any investments put into the grade school students will be for naught. At the high school level we'll lose the better athletes.

Questioner said...

Re: "Did the student athletes allowed to play at 1.5 instead of 2.0 make significant academic progress or not?

PPS has the data, let's see them produce the regressions that either support lowering the standard or not."

- Not a chance of that. There have been gender core classes at Westinghouse for 2 years now and PPS never put out data about how student performance, attendance, etc. has been affected. And it's not because they haven't been asked. Decisions seem to be made based on hunches and hopes rather than evidence and data.

Anonymous said...

9:07 - Your comments (and thinking) are a clear representation of what is wrong in PPS! As a coach, I would have expected better. Please cease and desist in promoting the RACISM, that is so prevalent in PPS. The African American students in PPS do not have a chance at success, athletically or academically, based on the BELIEFS inherent in the comments made here.

Anonymous said...

"Why is this not "Blideside?"

That young man comes to Pittsburgh to play each year.

This can be The Blideside, and it has been for some"

Did you read the book or see the movie? (The Blind Side) Michael Ohr was adopted by a very wealthy family, went to a private school and had a full time tutor.

We are not that.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:23 - you misunderstood what I was saying. I'm not promoting racism. The reality is that many students do not get engaged in school/athletics/activities. Check dropout statistics, etc. We need to find a way to involve all of our students so they don't fall through the cracks and we lose them. If lowering the gpa to play sports gets more students involved in school, then we can use this to help better them academically. How is this a racist mindset? These aren't "beliefs." This is reality.

Anonymous said...

NO "We are not that." But the question remains. . . WHY are we not that." If you/we believe that the education of an African American (as in "Blindside") is possible, why do we not demand that our Public Schools do the job that private, charter, cyber, etc.can do? Is it because we don't have money for principals, teachers, materials? (At $19,000 per student???)

Explain WHY educating ALL children (as in Blindside, etc) is NOT HAPPENING in ALL of our Public Schools?
(It happens in some, why not others?)

If successful education is possible for just one student with the worst of backgrounds & no advantages, WHY is it not possible for ALL such?

(Remember, we have just eliminated background, parents, community as excuses.) So WHY?

Anonymous said...

As someone who has only read about the film- have we really eliminated parents and community as explanation? Wasn't the Blindside student taken in by a family with a mom and dad that acted as parents to him? And at that point money was no longer a problem either? Family and community support and financial support were key ingredients.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I am surprised to hear that there were student athletes below the standard who were allowed to play. That is crazy. If it was proven to be true, heads should roll.

At Schenley, I doubt that ever happened. If one was not eligible, then it was over. Over for how long, well, that is another question.

Anonymous said...

More social workers in the community and schools are needed. There is no money to make off that "Venture" therefore Gates & Broad have no interest in that.

Anon 5:16 read 1:19.

PPS spends too much money due to incompetence. They keep hiring assistants hoping that person knows what they are doing. Sad thing is, they push people that know what they are doing out the door.

Old Timer said...

As a coach and teacher, I've seen many kids struggle with the GPA issue and to relegate the conversation to a racial situation only serves to interfere with the issue at hand: students need to achieve to better their circumstances for the future.
I spend a great deal of time talking to kids about ideas like college ball and pro ball. It's funny that student athletes think there is a pot of gold waiting for them in terms of athletic scholarship dollars and in some cases, the pro ranks and yet, it's representative of our ESPN culture.
When kids learn that the percentage of kids earning big money for athletic scholarships is ridiculously low, they come to understand that they must achieve in the classroom not only for Promise money but for academic scholarships and grants, which are much more plentiful, common and available to them.
That said, I believe in athletics. I believe they give a segment of our kids--male and female, black and white--a reason to come to school. I believe that so many positives are learned through being a part of a program and that when done properly, acts as another form of learning that in many cases was missing for a young man or woman.
I don't believe that dropping the GPA requirement to 1.5 is akin to "giving in", but I do have some trepidations in a time when our assistant superintendent has already dropped grading to the 50% rule, which means grades are often inflated, especially where kids who are in that 1.5 area are concerned.
I think a lot of coaches see involvement on a team and in a program as a learning opportunity for the kids, and I agree. Overall, I think that any way in which you can get kids into school and into the social fabric of school life, then perhaps you have put them on the road to the realization of what the academic process is, too.
I've seen it and I've witnessed the "light bulb going on" for many kids of all shapes, sizes, genders and races. All too often, kids weren't cognizant of the opportunities that come via academic achievement and simply being an athlete often brings maturation that comes with themes like effort, commitment, goal-setting and the like.
To me at least, sometimes it has seemed to me that a large number of our 'low achievers' have been that way because they don't buy into or have an interest in academics. If being a part of a team opens their eyes and gets them to work a bit harder with the guidance of caring coaches, I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed that in more presentations to the public there is less Promise-readiness emphasis put on off-to-college and more emphasis put on career certification programs? I noticed it again during the last A+ meeting at the PFT. I see it as being practical, others I have spoken to see it as lowered expectations. The lowered GPA requirement could be acceptable when applied to a sport's season. I would like to see this debated in a greater forum with more opinions and reasons floated.

It should also be a concern that we may see cuts to coaching positions at the assistant level and more management duties falling on one pair of shoulders.

Anonymous said...

What is the 50% rule? I am almost afraid to ask because I think I know the answer.

Questioner said...

Here is a link to a PURE thread on the 50% rule:

Mark Rauterkus said...

Old Timer hit a home run above. Or, was it a touchdown or slam dunk. Any way, it was well put.

And, the 50% policy is a factor for fear. There is interplay that must be considered ... And thinking again on that policy is most welcomed.

Anonymous said...

What happened at the agenda review? Are they lowering the gpa or not? Why or why not?

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