Saturday, August 11, 2012

PSSA cheating reforms lead to lower scores across PA

On another post Anonymous wrote:

"Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "PPS does not make AYP":
At the end of this article Pittsburgh is listed as still under investigation. This could get ugly! "

- The Pittsburgh mention was hard to find at first-  note that this is a 7 page article.


Anonymous said...

Page 6...
""Teachers in the districts and charters where the allegations were most serious - including Philadelphia - have been prohibited from administering their own students' exams. This year, there were state monitors inside classrooms and stringent new rules about who could have access to the tests.

Is this why PPS could not have teachers administor the tests to their own students? Please note that I am not accusing teachers of cheating!

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is. I think that article (or another I've read) notes that while there have been occasional teacher cheating scandals, most real cheating (the kind that gets caught!) is done or orchestrated by administrators.

Anonymous said...

So it's possible that previous AYP results are not valid? I just might Opt-out of testing for my children this year!

Questioner said...

You heard it from PURE first- from November 17, 2008 public hearing testimony, almost 4 years ago:

"State tests in particular now
have high stakes attached to them. Schools may be closed, bonuses may be received or withheld, and
jobs may even be lost, largely on the basis of the results of these tests. A recent article in the New
York Times raises the issue of a possible result of these high stakes- a principal being suspected of
altering test answers. While this new story involves the Charleston area, there have been third
hand reports of issues in Pittsburgh. Some have commented that principals are put in a difficult
position- they need to raise scores but not so much as to raise suspicion. For the protection of
students, teachers and administrators alike, then, I would ask the Board and the district to review
procedures, both for proctoring tests and for protecting the tests from the time they are taken to the
time they are returned to the testing companies, and let us know what procedures are in place so that
we can all rely on the results."

- No response received from the Board or any administrator.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! Even if the district had a way to prove the procedures were tight, I don't believe test results should be used to determine the effectiveness of teachers, bonuses, etc. Read here about the Florida school board member that failed the 11th grade standardized test he took.

Maybe we can get our school board members to take the new Keystone Exam- a new state requirement for graduation? Or better yet, we can make passing the Keystone Exam a requirement to run for a school board seat!

Questioner said...

That is an interesting idea- it makes sense that people making significant decisions about education in the district should be ablt to pass the exam of basic skills. And the process of taking the test itself would show them exactly what is being required of students.

Anonymous said...

So Pittsburgh fals under " serious allegations?". If so it will be pretty obvious they were cheating after this massive failure. If a few classrooms had irregular results that could indicate a few teachers cheating. District wide irregularities would indicate a more invasive role higher up.

Anonymous said...

This article identifies the Pittsburgh School District investigation of cheating on the PSSA as "ongoing" as opposed to "cleared."

Pittsburgh spent a whole month on preparing students to take a test that they have been taking for the last ten years. For at least five of those years they also took "practice" tests, the 4Sight tests, five times a year.

I wonder why such a need to "practice" skills that should have been a part of teaching and learning every day of the year. Does anyone at PPS understand what skills constitute ordinary thinking which should be happening routinely?

Has anyone at central office ever taken the PSSA? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

Anonymous said...

WOW! The PSSA is a MINIMUM COMPETENCY test and the scores are this bad in PPS?????

What is going to happen when the COMMON CORE STANDARDS are assessed?

Common Core is NOT "minimum competency"!!!!

Anonymous said...

8:14 says that PPS had ten years of PSSA, but really it has been 15 years of taking the PSSA in PA.

PA schools have been held accountable for ten (10) of the 15 years.

(They had 5 years to prepare students without being held accountable.)

In two more years it will be all Common Core Standards at all grade levels.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
This article identifies the Pittsburgh School District investigation of cheating on the PSSA as "ongoing" as opposed to "cleared."

I think that was clearly established in all prior threads.

Anonymous said...

If the Commonwealth determines that cheating has occurred, remember this: the PPS senior management team received bonuses based in part on student achievement.

Should last year's bonuses have been put on hold until the investigation is complete?

Anonymous said...

In 15 years of PSSA testing, I have never even heard a rumor of a teacher cheating.
I have however heard countless rumors of administrators changing answers.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
In 15 years of PSSA testing, I have never even heard a rumor of a teacher cheating.
I have however heard countless rumors of administrators changing answers.

August 12, 2012 4:14 PM"

Easy to believe, who profits the most?

Anonymous said...

Ask any old school principal about this issue and ask them to be candid. Ask them if they themselves were asked by higher-ups to manipulate scores.
That the secretary of education in this state would make comments about teachers is disturbing. On the contrary, teachers have never been the issue. Administrators are another story altogether.

I find it interesting that individuals like Jean Fink will open their mouths and provide spin. In a city of intellect, she would have been relegated to doing medial work, as she should be. The same goes for Colaizzi.

I find it interesting that Lane is also providing spin. She'll talk about furloughs and uncertainty, and place it all back on teachers and not one word is dedicated to a failed curriculum that comes from IFL and Johnston.

Not one.

The 50% grading policy. "Managed curriculum" that is a script for teachers. Outrageous RISE edicts.

The chickens are coming home to roost now, and it will get worse.

As a person of intelligence, how can you possibly believe what Lane is pointing to as a solid reason?

Anonymous said...

Is the investigation of PSSA cheating the reason why an attorney from the Law Offices of Ira Weiss was seen purging records from School Safety?

Anonymous said...


When and where was that seen?

Anonymous said...

The PSSA isn't a minimum competency test. One could argue that a score of high Basic or low Proficient might represent "minimum competency" -- but that doesn't mean that the test is one of minimum competency.

In fact, I'd PREFER a min. comp exam -- that is, a "floor." If you can't pass that, you need to be in a special smaller class the next year, designed to both catch up what you've missed previously and the next year's material.

Of course, that class should be taught in smaller groups and NOT using the current scripts or curriculum. But of course, all of this is a pipe dream under current conditions.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. That is an odd response and interpretation. It shifts the responsibility for meeting the requirements to the student which is not the purpose of the test/exam, whatever.

After 15 years of teaching the basic skills and 10 years of holding districts/schools accountable for results, all schools should be reaching the PA accountability targets.

In two years, the skills identified at all grade levels will be assessed using the Common Core Standards.

The Common Core Standards and Assessments take the PSSA to another level, a considerably more complex level that the so-called minimum competency skills for which PSSA acquisition, progression and development should have laid the foundation.

In PPS ten years of basic skills development has not yet reached the proficiency levels set by PDE.

Suggesting that is the "floor" is appropriate. So, are you saying that its okay that the majority of PPS students and virtually all of the African American students should be in smaller "special" classes next year so that they can be caught up on what has been learned during the previous 5-10 years?

If PPS is among the lowest 25-30 districts out of 500, and have gone backwards over the last 10 years in standing, it sounds as though you are blaming it on the students.

Are you suggesting that if parents want a better education for their children they must change schools?

Anonymous said...

With all the empowering efforts that have occurred over the time in question, it is obvious those efforts have failed. Therefore, I blame the plans & planners of the empowering effective teachers initiative.

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

The august 16, 2:52 posting contains a number of bad assumptions.

First off, the proficiency rate accelerates each year on the way to the mythical yet insane idea that ALL students will be proficient in this type of standardized test one day very soon.

I am sorry, but the word asinine comes to mind in trying to envision those who would come up with such a thought.

That said, PA accountability targets cannot and will not be reached by most if not all school districts.

Common core standards will be no different in this regard.

Next is the idea of ten years of practice and training yielding little in the way of results. I'm not in disagreement with the latter part of the statement but rather, the former. Where is this practice you write of? Certainly not in the reading and math curriculum.

In fact, there seems to be some sort of mysterious thought that through osmosis, students will simply pick up the skills necessary to pass standardized tests, PSSA, Keystone or others. Of course, inane curricula is now the norm across all content areas and we can thank PPS handing off the decision-making to Pitt's IFL for this. This is similar to a baseball team that has a big game coming up shooting lay-ups or kicking a soccer ball around prior to the game.

The "preparation" process defies logic.

Black, white, red, yellow....students of all color learn better in smaller classroom environments. Please do some research and quit being so touchy all of the time. Since this district sought to shield its much needed administrators from furloughs , cough, we will now have ridiculously large classes and mark my words, attention spans will be short and disruptions will be more frequent.

Thank Linda Lane.
Thank Jean Fink.
And all of the administration and board members.

"Special" classes, you say? Here's a proposal: any kid who is in high school that has a track record of scoring below basic on CBA's or SRI's should have the "special" class of PSSA Prep at some point for a protracted period. I could care less about skin color, not should anyone else. A good PSSA prep class---or standardized testing class, call it what you like---teaches kids strategies for success in PSSA's, or CBA's, or Keystone's or SAT's, for that matter.

Playing "catch up," you holler? Sure, thanks to a curriculum that has allowed kids to move forward by not addressing their needs.

You do know that teachers must follow the scripted curriculum, right? You do know that the idea is that students can bounce ideas off of themselves and learn in pair-share and 4-square before they get help from the teacher, correct? This is the RISE mantra, after all.

No, I don't blame the students at all. PPS has failed them, and you need look no further than the offices at places like Bellefield Ave, Greenway or Brashear to see where the true fault lies. Egos being what they are, the PSSA scores are met with denial by these types, as they continue to justify their jobs, their idiotic philosophies and look to affix blame on things like "teacher movement" and "teacher concerns and frustration."

Perhaps Judy Johnston can write an op-ed piece about it. She has all the answers, and it begins with those dirty teachers.

We've doomed our kids with outrageous curriculum and philosophies. We've watched countless teachers being focused and fired for protesting. Well, what we see in test scores should be no surprise.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 2:58, surprise, yesterday's 2:52 agrees with almost everything you say. You have described PPS very accurately. You are also correct in that there will never be 100% proficiency; but it is a good goal or at least one a target. We cannot make assumptions on WHO will make it and treat them with lower expectations. (Never say "can't")

One exception is the PSSA strategies comment. The skills that are the PSSA should be an integrated, embedded, natural element of every lesson and every interaction in the classroom. The teaching and learning of these skills is why we send children to school. When this is essence, there is no need for PSSA "strategies" or "preparation" or "practice." (The same is true of Common Core which takes teaching and learning to a much more complex level.)
PPS understanding of the PSSA is flawed and is very much the reason why achievement is so low and until the PPS understanding of PSSA and/or Common Core changes achievement will remain at low levels.

Remember there are hundreds of other districts and thousands of other schools who are ready to move to a more complex level. PPS is not; but they could be given different leadership, leadership that demonstrates understanding of how we learn.

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

3:50, I said as much about PPS curriculum but you are off when it comes to the idea of "leadership." No, we don't have leaders but rather poseurs who wish to give the air of being authorities who know better. In reality, they have been found to be in error time and time again, but have succeeded in playing the blame card.

No, the problem here is payola. Gates money is really the "leadership." And the Gates grant enables millions more in grants that are sure to come, as the ivory tower believes Pittsburgh is "cutting edge" when in fact, it has failed the families of Pittsburgh.
To a lesser degree but still just as complicit is the fact that foundations are controlling viewpoints within administration circles.

Payola has corrupted PPS, just as surely as has inexperience and well, poor judgement.

I simply believe the train has gone off of the tracks and there is no coming back in the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

4:56 - Again, it is difficult to disagree with what you have put forth. Though there appears to be abundant circumstantial evidence some of us are not in a position to do more than agree that your accusations are very plausible, even likely. Concrete proof is not so easy to come by.

But; we can't just hand over our children's futures to Gates, money, and incompetent central office "poseurs".

We know enough to EDUCATE despite the odds.

Mind-control while pervasive via the money, money, money factor must be COUNTERED with truth, facts, and massive numbers of those who are able to think and act in opposition to the betrayal of our children's right to develop their minds with an education that prepares them for a successful future in a better world.

We can't give up. It matters!

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

Your last paragraph speaks volumes and is spot-on. "Mind control" is what I see the curriculum as being. We're not teaching kids how to think, we are teaching them what to think. To me at least, the very foundation of a true democratic society is to have free thinking individuals. This type of creativity pushed America ahead and sadly, I think we are now teaching young people to fall in line with a mindset, with a mantra, with an agenda. That's not teaching. I see this in the ELA curriculum. I see this in the Civics curriculum.

Please know that many teachers--young and old---understand the charge of teaching. We understand the responsibility of preparing kids for college and the world ahead of them. We augment curriculum. We discuss. We explore. We allow our kids to explore.

Unfortunately, we had better not do this when an administrator is in the classroom. You ask for concretes---I would not wish the massive RISE manifesto upon you. It is extremely lengthy and on one hand faults teachers for not having fidelity to the wacko curriculum and on the other, truly says that a teacher can torpedo a teacher for any reason an administrator sees fit to note.

"Empowering teachers?" You have to laugh about that. True teachers don't see a one size fits all approach as being viable for all kids. Each student is different and good teachers know how to reach each child. The curriculum discourages this. Good teachers know that there are many styles that can be employed to reach kids, to make lessons more enjoyable, to make learning more impactful and meaningful. The curriculum discourages this.

Certainly, this is concrete, as are the PSSA scores this year. It is a simple algebraic equation, in essence: if all teachers must strictly adhere to a curriculum and each student is taught via that curriculum...and they then fail to achieve in standardized testing---then the testing indicates failure.

And this is just the beginning. Just wait.

Enjoyed your thoughts and largely agree. We can't give up but unfortunately, teachers deviate at their own peril. Administration's cavalier approach to rating teachers and then dismissing some or placing others on improvement plans is yet another concrete that we would be glad to share you, and that the monthly board minutes can bear out.

Shame. Most teachers know it school MUST be all about the achievement of students. Pity that administration thinks that instead it is all about the money and personal reputations.

Anonymous said...

6:13: Beautifully stated and speaks for the many, many exceptional teachers in PPS in a way that restores faith in teachers. THANK YOU.

(Afterthought: I wonder at the intelligence of a central office that believes that what is happening in PPS serves the enhancement of their "personal reputations". If they are the enforcers of a "one-size-fits-all,"
"managed" and scripted curriculum that continues to result in failing schools, the blame lays at their own feet, NOT teachers who have been stripped of the autonomy to fulfill their roles/professions as teachers.

Central Office is woefully lacking in thinking skills!

Teachers UNITE and overthrow the incompetent regime! Organize. Take to the streets and the majority of communities in Pittsburgh will support you.

Anonymous said...

WE SHOULD FORM A UNION!! Oh...wait a sec...

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

A lot of people think the current incarnation of the union has become a joke, a paper tiger that is laughed at down on Bellefield Ave. To some degree, this is true. Old veterans know the contract book that we got back in the 80's and 90's was thick and that the current contract isn't even half of what we once had. This means that the PFT gave away a huge portion of the farm and what they have allowed is this cavalier mentality of PPS administration. They do what they like. They don't ask PFT permission. They don't have to.
You see this in contract negotiations that result in veteran teachers getting "raises" that aren't even in line with a cost of living increase and young teachers getting...nothing.
You see this is grievance proceedings where infractions are numerous and never resolved. I've heard more than one administrator laugh at the word "grievance," and that's a shame.
Like Tarka, Ninia is unwilling to even utter the word "strike" and it is the only trump are she has left. When your opponent views you as weak, you are doomed. When your rank and file sees you as lame, as not doing what is in the best interests of your constituents, then you are even weaker.
But to say this started with Nina would be a lie....and it didn't start with Tarka, either.
God bless his soul, but Al Fondy made numerous concessions at the end of his tenure for a few dollars more. Hindsight being 20-20, he would have been better to steadfastly stand by what he and his staff had worked so hard to achieve.
No, there is no PFT now in truest terms. We are really on our own and while a union rep can carp on your behalf, administration knows it has you by the short hairs where "curriculum fidelity" and RISE are concerned.
Play the game, friends.
Only the rank and file can change things, and I don't see that happening. In bad situations---and there are a number of schools with people in charge who enjoy the tyranny and mutation game at the expense of teachers---only walk-outs and blue Fridays are going to bring attention.
Nina and John have believed that you can be civil with those who wish to bully you. An old school way of thinking, that a bully only understands a punch in the eye, would be much more beneficial here.
Union means solidarity.
It's time that we all understand that there is safety in numbers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:47 that was then and this is now,Teachers are paid very well and they are the only staff members in the pps that get health insurance paid for when they retire.How ironic is that teachers make the 2nd most in salary next to admistration and still complain about there jobs and money .Every body wants more but how much is enough.Look around the distric and you will see that the seniority teachers are the ones that are angry and always have something to complain about.Its time to move on with this iam not happy with the administration is running things.If you seinority teachers are not happy with you jobs good luck,and move on i will be glad to take your job.

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

That response is the problem in a nutshell. It is a union-killer. Your thinking makes the reader believe--and Lane and her people are good at this too, of course---that veteran teachers always enjoyed job security from day one. That's ridiculous, and it speaks of an ignorance. I went through Prism and E-pass. I lived through many poor administrators--18 principals in 30 years---who would have felt at home with what we see in RISE. And let me be more frank, I had two colleagues die shortly after retirement. I had numerous others contract various illnesses during their teaching careers, which certainly could be called life-threatening.
Veteran teachers have paid their dues and you'll have to pardon me for saying so, don't owe you an apology. Perhaps you are too young to remember the site based management days when each principal received a budget and had to make cuts---to staff.
We've been down this road before.
Instead of seeing the real culprit here--administration--you would throw it on veteran teachers who refuse to drink the proverbial kool aid and who know quite well that a one size fits all approach to a curriculum is a losing proposition.
I can understand your bitterness as again, PPS teachers who are veteran have witnessed many cuts, although not to this drastic degree and yet, to say that teachers are so well paid is patently ridiculous.
Please do the math. What do teachers get paid in Peters, or Pine Richland, or NA? And more pointedly, are they dealing with the situations that each of us must deal with on a daily level?
Absolutely not.
Your frustration is misplaced and symbolic of the blather that comes from Dr.Lane.
"Real" leadership would have sought to cut the bloat from administration, not the teaching force. You see, it's my belief that NO teacher should have been furloughed. NONE.
It's my continued belief that with 700+ administrators in this district, and their accompanying staffers---cuts should have been made elsewhere, first and foremost.
Philadelphia will be going this route but in Pittsburgh, the Board of Public Education would rather protect those NOT in the classroom than those who are employed to educate children.
I can't apologize for being a survivor, no matter what administration wants you to believe. This situation in our schools started with Governor Corbett, but the mishandling of staffing and the hypocrisy with regards to who must be protected as most valuable should be apparent to all.
Let's call a spade a spade and tell it like it is. Your teaching colleagues are not and were never the enemy and to be frank, would fight on your side if union leadership had any type of courage.
I know for a fact that no administrator could ever say the same.
All the best to you.

Anonymous said...

In 3 years there will be no more all the teachers that are hanging on good luck and retire now before it's to late and you loose you job anyway.

Anonymous said...

One example of a loss to the rank and file by the union that again HURTS CHILDREN: Please remember first it is almost impossible for teachers of "leave early" or flex time for families etc. Teachers used have to lie if they nbeeded to take off if their kids were ill and say they were ill to take a sick day. Then, as union royals had agine parents etc. they won us the ability toi take sick days for ill parents, kids, and SPOUSES. Read the latest PFT Point- NO MORE SPOUSES- underlined. Do you really want a teacher in sxhool with your kids whose mind is on a critically ill SPOUSE? Again more demoralizing of teachers.

Anonymous said...

My Dad retired after 38 years of teaching. 1 month later my Mom was diagnosed with advanced cancer and passed away less than a year later. If he had not retired he would have been taken care of by the union. He would have worked as much as he could if he had not retired because he took his profession and students very seriously.

Teachers are not the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh has an over-inflated image. Best place to live, best steel belt whatever, BS about the publc schools. Pittsburgh Promise? Seriously? It is just a tax shelter for UPMC. If PPS is so great why does enrollment keep declining when the district is paying 40 grand towards college.

It doesn't add up.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong about the health insurance . I will also suggest that you seem to be a complainer in the making.
Put away your broad brush as you are painting yourself into a corner.
I am a veteran educator w pps. It is part of my professional responsibility to challenge ineffective/inefficient policies.
I have always asked for better school management over monetary issues w each new contract.

Anonymous said...

I am not a complainer, I know it is PPS administrators are the problem NOT the teachers. The fact is the numbers are declining not increasing due to crummy policies.

Anonymous said...

=>> In 3 years there will be no more all the teachers that are hanging on good luck and retire now before it's to late and you loose you job anyway.
August 18, 2012 4:57 PM <<=

I'd suggest that you learn:
-to spell seniority (hint: the word senior is in it)
-use your/you're/plain you and their/there/they're accurately
-the difference between lose and loose

One or two mistakes here and there may escape notice while typing, but I really hope you are not a teacher-in-waiting as you imply.

Anonymous said...

August 18, 8:53 - Teachers only get health insurance paid for when they retire until they are 65, then you are on Medicare and HOP which they pay for.

Anonymous said...

Back on topic.. Was Sterrett the only school flagged by the state? It seems odd if one school showed a 27% (according to Pugh) increase, or an irregularity, the rest of the district would be held accountable. Are we only getting part of the story?

Anonymous said...

There aren't any specific PPS schools mentioned in the article, but we are listed as a district where the investigation is "ongoing" just like in Philadelphia.

I assume that means that all three years show cheating (2009, 2010, 2011) at multiple schools. I can think of several just in the East End that may have had someone decide that the scores needed to be better.

Anonymous said...

When I google it sterrett is the only school that shows up. I agree that more have been flagged and it hasn't been made public. However that seems strange too, why hide it?

Anonymous said...

Because no one at the Post-Gazette has contacted the state for information, unlike reporters in Philly. They managed to get names of schools in their district.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, Principal Sumpter has retired from Sterrett. She is the wife of a CURRENT School Board member. That says a lot of info right there. If there has been any degrading of integreity of test information from previous years her pension should be touched.

Many feeel in the city of Pittsburgh community-from parents, educators from the universities and
teachers a very secure WATERGATE coverup.

The longer it takes for answers to clear PPS-will it prove nothing substantial to proove guilt.

Anonymous said...

In Pittsburgh, if there was cheating, it hardly matters, since the scores are substantially below the minimum standards set by the state.

And Pittsburgh, has NOT, despite PR claims to the contrary, met AYP, as defined. The were in "Making Progress" last year, NOT "Made AYP"

The African American students who are the majority in PPS have not even come close to meeting the PA Standards.

What is worse, is that they are going backwards, not forward, whether they are cheating or not.

The should be massive outrage at the state of academic achievement in PPS.

Anonymous said...

I thought that this subject had been retired here once before but I will resurrect it: the questions about Sterrett did not stem from eraser marks but rather, attendance for the test. This was the area that was being questioned and within that, I believe, the numbers of special ed kids taking the test.
Two items that should be noted here:
1) Sterrett has maintained AYP (until this year) for years.
2) The feeder pattern for the school changed prior to the questions regarding this particular year of PSSA testing.
You'll have to pardon me, but I do not believe that Sterrett "cheated" in any way.

Anonymous said...

So why isn't this an open and shut case where the school was quickly cleared? Lots of other schools have been cleared. And why did the principal who seems to be in good health leave before the end of the school year?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a bit of a witch hunt. What, do you *want* to find improprieties???
Mrs.Sumpter had 41 years in PPS.
I'd say she earned her retirement...and her good health.

Anonymous said...

How long was she at Sterrett? Wasn't there a different principal there for at least the 2009 and maybe the other years (2010 and 2011) too?

As the article noted, there may well be reasons that some schools had/have problems, like if they were teaching some test strategy that involved more changing (erasing) of answers. Not all that likely, but possible.

Anonymous said...


The former Sterrett principal is a woman of integrity and good judgement.

Would that we had a few dozen of such women in PPS. It is likely that she could have brought a little of that sanity and good judgement to Central Office or a least served as a mentor to those who have little clue to running a school, much less a district.

Let's not take her husband's lack of good judgement out on her. Please.

Anonymous said...

I want to say that Mrs.Sumpter was at Sterrett for 8 or 10 years. I am a bit flabbergasted that there is so much misinformation out there, especially about someone in charge of a school that did things right for years and one which had students that annually made AYP.
I'd say that Sterrett was a success story, no matter what some idiot in Harrisburg has to say.

And let me say this about "eraser" marks: we teach our kids strategies for success and certainly, one of those strategies is to review questions and the answer you marked. That's part of being diligent as a student. It's a shame that it has become so fashionable to demonize teachers that lifelong politicians would look at eraser marks as being some sinister sign.


Anonymous said...

As a parent I have never heard of anything but positive things regarding Ms. Sumpter. For whatever reason Sterrett is the only school named in the investigation. I really hope they are cleared.

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

Mrs.Sumpter was one of the last "old school" principals who likely look at what this new administration and PELA is doing with great distress. There is no doubt that Mrs.Sumpter, Toni Kendrick, Wayne Walters and a perhaps a couple more know that this district is being destroyed from the top on down.
I'd always heard rumors that "old school" principals sat in one portion of the room during meetings and that the "new breed" sat in the other. Sad to say that the latter is likely starting to overrun the latter.
I still run into a couple of now-retired principals who saw this coming and remind me to "get out while you can."
I'm right behind them.
The only hope for the children of this district is a pact between union and parents to throw the ivory tower-types out on their ears, and by any means necessary.
Only then will Pittsburgh children truly see a brighter day where education is concerned, beyond the propaganda that comes from PPS, its 50% grade policies, its scripted curriculum and the pot of gold waved under the noses of parents called The Pittsburgh Promise. A college education won't last long if the student was never taught the essentials needed to compete.

Anonymous said...

Great schools test scores show huge gains 2010-2011 at Colfax. Lots of information on that site, I only checked a few schools.

I agree Sumpter is being hung out to dry.

Anonymous said...

Wow check out these jumps at Weil!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Weil's scores, as reported here previously, are not the actual scores.

Weil used the "Growth Model" (GM) which is a "projected" score, as PAAYP states:

"The Growth Model will be applied to an AYP Performance Indicator only if the indicator cohort has not met AYP performance by any of the existing goals or targets."

Anonymous said...

Always pay attention to HOW a school made or did not make AYP----Safe Harbor, Confidence Interval, Growth Model, etc.

Here is the complete, official explanation of Growth Model from PDE:

What is the Growth Model?

"The Growth Model recognizes the efforts of schools whose students have not achieved proficiency but are on trajectories towards proficiency on future PSSA exams. The Growth Model will be calculated for Performance Indicators (i.e., the all student group and up to nine subgroups). Projected scores are calculated for all students - including students who are proficient. If a projected score cannot be calculated for a particular student, the student’s actual score is used. The Growth Model will be applied to an AYP Performance Indicator only if the indicator cohort has not met AYP performance by any of the existing goals or targets. Actual, not projected, PASA scores, PSSA-M scores, 3rd grade scores, and 11th grade scores are always used, as well as the scores for any students with insufficient data points to make a projection."

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't use the Great Schools data, it's close but not exactly what's reported.

Most schools saw a big jump in the 2011 scores, statewide. That big jump plus all the "anti-cheating"measures this year which meant kids often tested in a room with what amounted to a substitute may go a long way to explaining this year's score drops.

Last year was an odd spike both in our district and statewide.

Anonymous said...

Again, there is no "big jump" when the "Growth Model" is used by PDE to "project" scores.

The scores on the PDE PAAYP website sometimes have letters next to the scores. The "letters" such as SH, CI, GM represent a formula that was used to allow an "AYP" designation based on certain conditions represented by the "letters" used.

Any PSSA scores that had a "GM" (Growth Model) after it (such as Weil) indicates that it was not the actual score, but, instead was a "projection" of some future score based on the formula used.

This GM explains that it is a projection, not a real, current score. So, using projected scores makes it seem as though there was a "jump" that does not exist in real time.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that Mrs. Sumpter is a woman of integrity and good judgement. And shame on anyone who thinks differently.

Let us not forget that the Administration changed the feeder patterns for Sterrett from a whole magnet to a feeder/magnet.

There are several other schools that had been rumored that the principals have cheated.

BUT...not Sterrett.

Anonymous said...

The cheating issue started years ago and a couple of principals who I knew quite well rebuffed pressure from higher-ups to "engineer" some positive results.
Political hacks who moonlight as education secretaries should tell it like it is. I've been in this district for almost three decades. I've never heard even a whisper of a teacher lowering him or herself to change answers.
I can't say the same about administrators.
I can only imagine that with the bunch that is now in charge--you know, the characters who exude ethical integrity--that it is worse.
Funny thing is that these folks are insulated from everything: no job descriptions, no critiques, no furloughs.
Amazing time to be a teacher.
Why would anyone want to do this job?

Anonymous said...

Well, there was that one teacher with the post-it notes on tests (which tests? not sure) for the kids telling them which ones to redo. That was a while ago though, and I can't remember which school it was in.

Far more difficult with current tests though, since teachers really shouldn't have access to them for any length of time without a classroom full of kids to tell on them.

Professional Outstanding Teacher said...

I thought that was a counselor but I may be wrong. I stand corrected. She was one who clearly sold her soul for greater results.

I mentioned Sumpter, Kendricks and Walters up above and I will say this about the old school style of principals who remain: it is obvious to me that they have been threatened by central office. I am positive that the word has come down that if they don't focus teachers and put them on corrective action plans, then they will be focused. Knowing what I do about each and watching the lunacy of RISE evolve, it's pretty clear.

These people know that RISE only empowers administrators, and they wanted no parts of such a witch hunt. Kudos to them and they should know that teachers understand the predicament they are in.

It's funny to me to hear people like Lippert say that "managed curriculum is not scripted curriculum." That's for public consumption and may sound politically correct to parents, but it is patently false.

I defy any teacher to stray one word off of this "managed curriculum" when an administrator is present. The result will make hell seem like a playground.

Awful times to be a teacher in PPS.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Getty was demoted at Minadeo a few years ago as soon as the first or second RISE class "gradated". The school has been in free fall ever since. It is such a shame because it was a pretty decent school for a long time.

It is really sad to see experienced prinipal's with principles get pressured, relocated, "retire" and demoted.

Anonymous said...

Talk about old school principals retiring let me add Arsenal's to the mix. Principal Rucki was known to have a no nonsense style that kept Arsenal on an even keel. Growing students academically, setting clear expectations and consequences for inappropriate behavior, encouraging a collaborative atmosphere between staff, initiated positive relationships with parents and secured community partners for the good of our students unlike any principal I have ever worked for and served as an instructional leader who thought out of the box.

Staff often wondered if she bled Arsenal as her passion for the students was without question. It's apparent that her retirement was premature with the onset of RISE. Wether she was pressured to place teachers on an Improvement Plan is unknown but I can tell you this, she would never yield to compromising her professional ethics and convictions. Old school principals were clear and concise.

Now the district has so many PELA principals who are learning the responsibilities of leadership through on the job training. Then again, this appears to be the standard supported through the philosophy of Gates and Broad. Our district administrators are on the job trainees so it's uncomfortable when successful veteran principals challenge the current educational philosophy and best practices that stifle creativity in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I remember when that woman was using post-it-notes. She worked at an elementary school on the north side. I also remember a year or two earlier, my principal had my colleague and I in his office stating in no uncertain terms that we needed to do "whatever we needed to do" to raise test scores. I left that school and was replaced by that woman with the post-it-notes.