Monday, September 10, 2012

PSSA presentation

On another post Anonymous wrote:

New Post

Pittsburgh Schools Sort through Disappointing Results from the Monday night PSSA presentation at the Education Committee Meeting.

Hopefully there will be a full report in tomorrow's PG.


Fred said...

Disappointing PSSA scores?

Round up the usual suspects! Put more teachers on improvement plans! No, better yet, fire more teachers!

Hire more PELA's who have never taught a day in their lives!

Increase class sizes! Use the money saved to hire useless outside consultants!

And oh yes, fire more teachers. Especially the veteran ones.

I could go on and on...

Anonymous said...

Maybe it isnt the script that works...

Anonymous said...

Please POST the new PG article that was sent earlier.

It has all of 2012 PSSA scores in Reading and Math for every PPS school!

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh Public Schools PSSA Scores Drop

New PG article today shows charts with each of Pittsburgh Public School scores in Reading and Math.

At Westinghouse, only, there are separate scores for Gr. 6-8 and Gr. 11 (this years 12th grade).

Westinghouse Gr. 11 is 29.4% proficient in Reading and 7.7% proficient in Math.

Brashear Teaching Academy overall scores are 29.9% proficient in Reading and 19.5% proficient in Math.

The PA minimum target is 81% proficient in Reading and 78% proficient in Math.

That means that both Westinghouse and Brashear are more than -50 percentage points below the PA minimum standard.

Milliones U-Prep (6-12) shows 34.4 % in Reading and 38.6% in Math. It does NOT separate the 11th grade scores. We must wait until PDE publishes the scores which are due in late September online.

So, Milliones U-Prep is -40 pts below the PA minimum standard in both Reading and Math.

Anonymous said...

The 2012 PSSA scores for the Brashear Teaching Academy are 29.9% proficient in Reading and 19.5% proficient in Math.

If Brashear is where they are training teachers to be effective, these scores beg lots of Questions!

Brashear Teaching Academy DROPPED 4.8 points in Reading and 13.2 points in Math.

(The PA minimum target is 81% proficient in Reading and 78% proficient in Math.)

Questioner said...

It would make sense for the paper to print 6-8 scores separately from 11th grade for all the 6-12 schools, so that comparisons could be made among a particular grade level and progress or lack of progress identified.

Questioner said...

It looks like in math, Oliver made progress while Perry declined, and in reading, Perry's declines are 3 times as great as Olivers's, but Oliver is the school that was closed. 2012 performance at the schools ended at about the same level, but for years the emphasis has been on determining which schools are making progress.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we really need to see the 11th grade scores separated, since not only are they this years graduating classes, but in recent years it is the high schools that have shown great decline in progress and in achievement.

Keep in mind, though, that we will be able to see each grade levels individual scores when PDE releases its official data online.

For the past 10 years, this PDE final, official data has been released in late September.

Individual students scores are sent to Districts in early June (except this year it was early July) and School scores are always released in mid to late July.

Schools have until a date in August to challenge the school scores for cause. There is an interim period for checking the "appeals" and the finalizing the "official" data.

That is why PDE does not officially release scores until late September.

Anonymous said...

Re: Brashear

The performance of Brashear is troubling because last school year Mrs. Hazuda and Mrs. Colaizzi took every opportunity at board meetings to tout the work being done there. They each spoke about visits to the school and the amazing things they saw, by the time they were done you could have teared up a bit, it was so moving.

Anonymous said...

ALLDERDICE - 10+ years of PSSA

PA READING Target = 45% proficiency

ALLDERDICE (30 pts OVER PA target)
2002 = 72.5%
2003 = 75.1%
2004 = 75.6%

PA Reading Target = 54% proficiency
2005 = 71.9
2006 = 77.9
2007 = 72.3

PA Reading Target = 63% proficiency
2008 = 64.1
2009 = 65.5
2010 = 69.0

PA Reading Target = 73% proficiency
2011 = 75.5%

PA Reading Target = 81%
ALLDERDICE (almost 30 pts UNDER PA target)
2012 = 53.5%

No opinions here, just FACTS.
(Source PDE, not PPS)

Anonymous said...

For the high schools, pull in all the seniors to ask them what happened. If you are used to looking into the eye of a kid you will know who is BS'ing you with an explanation, and who is being sincere. Just don't do it on paper, really connect in person. The Dice numbers are puzzling.

Anonymous said...

The Dice scores are only "puzzling" if you believe that the PPS curriculum is a good replacement for what and how Dice teachers previously taught.

It is well established at this point that the PPS curriculum is fraught with problems, too many to count.

This Dice data would be the proof if one is open to looking at the evidence.

Anonymous said...

Hazuda and Colaizzi wouldn't know what to look for or what to ask. They are too easily distracted by the window dressing, aka, student centered learning.

They both have dogs in the race too. Wouldn't the teacher academy be a quick and simple way to certify family members?

Anonymous said...

PPS's curriculum is a train wreck that will continue with Keystone's. Just when will the idiots on Bellefield Avenue begin to have some accountability? Just when will someone hold them responsible for a complete failure of Pittsburgh students.
That said, how does Perry's principal keep her job. DId she allow her kids to answer questions while holding their hands over their eyes? How do you drop 30 points in reading in one year? That's almost beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

We are off to a great school year:

1. Test scores are down, significantly
2. No sign of enrollment decline reversing, the original (now never spoken of) Promise goal
3. The investigation of PSSA cheating continues
4. The District Attorney is calling
5. Class sizes are growing

This doesn't feel like Excellence for All

Anonymous said...

How about Faison? Bet we don't hear much more talk from 341 Bellefield, school board members, or A Plus Schools about the cutting edge reforms that they implemented last year and how they were losing their most effective teachers to seniority. All those reforms and effective less senior teachers working with the "neediest" children didn't add up to much progress. According to the chart in the PG it seems they dropped substantially (around 10% drop in reading to 26.5% proficient and 16.1% in math to 32% proficient) in both Reading and Math. The more senior teachers placed there this year against their will shouldn't have any trouble beating that performance. Sounds like the over 70% turnover in teaching staff A Plus schools rallied against was in reality much needed. Imagine that...more senior teachers CAN be effective with the districts most neediest schools/children.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100%, if the senior teachers can make it through RISE, which, let face it, is a method by which PPS administrators can dump salary.
Just when did 25 year veterans forget how to teach, anyway?
You have to laugh to keep from crying. So much incredible damage done to our students and to our dedicated teaching force, by morally corrupt administrators.
Shame. Pure shame on them.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid to send my child to Dice next year as a frosh. Does this effect the CAS classes, or do they even exsist anymore? That drop need some ' splain' to do! That is insane. What department to I call to find out who's pointing fingers at who!

Anonymous said...

Wow, didn't the principal of Carrick get a big promotion to central office? Obviously her PELA inspired years at the school did nothing to raise achievement.

How much faith do we place now in the Office of Teacher Effectiveness vis a vis the Brashear Teachers Academy? Do you think maybe staffing that entire with no one that had themselves been a successful teacher for any meaningful period of time was a mistake?

Would Dr. Lane, Mrs. Spolar and Mr. Weiss take the investigation of PSSA cheating seriously if the allegation was a high crime and misdemeanor, something more like a traffic ticket?

Do we now look at organized kayaking - I mean Summer Dreamers - as little more than wasteful window dressing?

How long will it be before the Rand Corporation, Mathematica Research or the Council of Great City Schools is called upon to issue another mind numbing report to convince us despite compelling evidence to the contrary that we are doing everything right?

Should we hire one or more fired Pennsylvania State troopers - I mean private investigators - to figure out why the district stopped cooperating in the Lellock investigation, compelling the District Attorney to subpoena records?

How much credibility do we continue to give the Judy Johnston led A+ Schools? Although the amount of payola for Judy and friends has been breathtaking, is Dr. Lippert's curriculum really raising the bar?

Marty G. won't have enough airtime before this day of reckoning is over. In the interim, sit back and watch the Solicitor get rich on tax appeals from the reassessment he started.

Anonymous said...

There was a time senior teachers were highly respected for there expertise & the reality that they were less distracted by the demands of raising a family.
I was told and observed, principals want teachers they can manipulate.
As well, it is no wonder scores are so low. Schools are so poorly / inefficiently managed.
I was so exhausted from standing tall in spite of illogical decisions I retired.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted that someone would wonder “how the principal keeps her job.”  Last year was a District disaster.  Pinnacle issues prevented prompt scheduling, teachers were cut mid year, Career Ladder wars were waged, and Perry's status as a school was in jeopardy.  While they were initially told their status was safe, that quickly changed and they were told to pack up to move to Oliver. Just as they were steeling themselves for the move, they were informed that they were staying.  This carousel of uncertainty continued for a few more revolutions before it came to an abrupt halt and they were  finally told they were staying put—and the message?  Get this transition RIGHT—or else.

People in administrative offices, people in the media, parents and alumni predicted imminent disaster with the Oliver transition.   The doom and gloom settled in every crack and crevice, and Perry, as a staff, pulled together with Oliver teachers to make sure the naysayers were positively WRONG.  Teachers worked longer days, saw earlier mornings and went in on weekends to help with the preparation.  The result?  A SEAMLESS transition—and one that many didn’t think was possible.  Who is to be commended for guiding this to fruition?  Oh wait, the PRINCIPAL.    And where are the naysayers now?  Are they apologizing for feeding the frenzy of pessimism?  No.  Now they are attacking the principal for test scores that tanked ACROSS THE DISTRICT. 

Let me give you a clue about how test scores work.  Schools test different groups of kids, using a different version of the test, in different years and then compare them.   Depending on any number of group dynamics, that subset of students can be one that has worked hard and pushed themselves to excel.  On the other hand, however, that subset can be comprised of high risk kids who have been transient, in crisis, etc.  Additionally, the subgroups recognized when disaggregating student data changed at Perry from 2010 to 2011. 

For anyone to suggest that somehow the principal should be FIRED because of one year of test scores, in spite of her performance across the board, is disheartening at best and borders on delusional.   Principals are given marching orders in the same way that many teachers are issued those orders—follow the curriculum, follow our directives, follow our march off the cliff.  If you want to place blame, take a look at the horrendous curriculum being spewed from Bellefield and who is WRITING that curriculum.  While curriculum writing is a science for which one can receive an advanced college degree, those authoring units in PPS are pulled from classrooms.  Where is the expertise?  Where is the research?  THAT is the source of lower test scores—not a principal in any given building. 

Let’s focus on the real issues and leave the name calling for the Board meetings. 

Questioner said...

Sounds like the principal deserves congratulations for a smooth opening.

Re: test scores varying due to different groups of kids, versions of the test, etc.- have there been drops like this in any HS's in the past, of 10, 20 or 30 percentage points? If not, there would seem to be something more than normal variation going on. Maybe the issue is the test or procedures- it is necessary to consider whether there a number of other high schools across the state with similar drops. If not, then it is probably not the test version either. Clearly investigation is required and results should be shared with the public.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect (and I DO respect you), I think you missed some of what I was attempting to say.  Perry lost teachers MID YEAR, causing an increase in class sizes (and the necessity to develop new teacher/student relationships) at a crucial time in the PSSA preparation process.  Additionally, the District was pushing the transition intiative ahead of anything else.   How can you throw a school into complete chaos and then expect test scores to increase? While Perry may have had more substantial losses, they also had more obstacles than any other building last year in terms of being held accountable for averting the type of transition disaster we saw at Westinghouse.  Those distractions most certainly played a crucial role in the scores that resulted from last year's testing. 
I submit to you that the entire District will once again see major losses this year.  Class sizes are larger at the secondary level than they ever have been in years past.  Consider this--years ago the Union membership realized the importance of smaller class sizes and wrote into the contract the following:  "No mainstream high school English classes may exceed 30 students".  Now watch closely while I spin this.  The District, in all its infinite wisdom, decided that there will no longer BE mainstream classes.  Instead, they simply RENAMED the classes "PSP" (scholars).  The SAME STUDENTS who, in years past, would have been considered mainstream are now labeled scholars.  Why?  (Pay attention--here comes the spin)  So that English classes could be loaded with five or six more students.  See, if the class isn't CALLED "mainsteam", the clause in the contract is null and void.  English classes can be loaded to 36.    It's these kinds of "slight of hand" that contributed to the tanking of District scores, and until we start holding our Bellefield adminstrators accountable, the downhill slide will most certainly continue.

Questioner said...

We are on the same page- you are giving a credible explanation if changes in the student population or test version do not explain the drop.

As for the sleight of hand- the same thing was done to increase the size of CAS classes over 20 by only including 20 "tested" students. Since additional students are not "tested" they are not "CAS students" even though they are taking CAS classes- make sense? Civics in action.

What is the exact definition in the teachers' contract of "mainstream students"?

Anonymous said...

Far too much quibbling and "excuses" here over relatively inconsequential effects/affects that contributed to the downward spiral of test scores.

It could take a dissertation to explain just a few of the major contributing factors, and still many would continue to make excuses.

However, there are, based on first hand observations and accumulated evidence, a few irrefutable reasons why there are problems with achievement scores.

One is basic understanding of what is being assessed. Others that stem from the lack of understanding are preparation, (teachers first, then students), procedures, practice, and educationally and philosophically productive teaching and learning.

PPS flies in the face of all that we know about educating for success (and that includes assessment).

Frankly, it is easy to make the case for why achievement has and will continue to drop even more precipitously with the Common Core State Standards than with ten years of PSSA, but Central Office out-rightly rejects all insight and/or assistance.

And, the community groups have not been able to break through those barriers.

Anonymous said...

Great defender of all things Perry, who do you think you are fooling?

RISE is a tremendously effective way to dump veteran teachers and nothing more. Do you read the board minutes? I certainly do and as such, again, I am left to wonder how such a program can exist within a district that has a teacher's union. And have you read all of the RISE literature? I have, and it is nothing more than a written shell game for the intellectually constipated. Again, it is a system by which teachers can be fired for any reason and at any time. It all just depends on the person doing the observing.
That said, at what point do kool-aid drinking administrators have to be accountable? Just when will we learn what "effective administration" is? When we be enlightened people like Charlotte Danielson or Paula Bevan about what makes a great leader? And will Mary van Horn be smiling the entire time as they relate this info?

The point was--and remains---that it takes a village to educate children. Some of us in the proverbial village are doing the educating and paying for it in blood while others are getting a free pass. This extends to top "management" within the district.

Before you carp about being disgusted with a query about how one keeps his or her job, try to walk a mile in the shoes of teachers in PPS, many of whom have to worry each and every day about keeping their jobs. Usually, it is because their walls weren't decorated properly (according to an observer) or their boards lacked one "important" notation (according to an observer) or they said something that was not 100% in concert with the curriculum (according to an administrator who last week said that such a thing was acceptable). Walk a mile in the shoes of a teacher, and then come back and tell me how disturbed you are.
What's truly delusional is the claptrap that you have put forward for public consumption. I see principals as being on the same level as central administrators anymore and see no allegiance to any of them when their sole purpose seems to be conducting ridiculous observations that provide no insight as to teacher effectiveness but rather, a clue where personal biases are concerned (in this case, usually related to years of service,)
You'd have people believe that having people from different communities and signing "Kumbaya" is tantamount to a pathway to becoming superintendent one day. How laughable. Given the atmosphere that central administration and school principals have intentionally created within this district, asking how someone keeps their job seems to be a logical question.
By the way, I can assure you that I likely have forgotten more about test scores than you will ever know. While the entire district may have "tanked" (which is not true of the entire district in any way, shape or form), no school dropped 30 points in an area such as Perry.
I can imagine that right now a great deal of heat is being placed upon teachers when that heat should be spread around.
Save the propaganda, friend. No one with a clue about what is going on in this district is buying.

Anonymous said...

Awww, 2:10, you seem so very well spoken, and yet, you know virtually nothing. I have enough letters after my name in education that I can almost envision you counting them on your tiny little fingers. When it comes to assessment, I would be more than happy to debate, as I have made my living analyzing data and spinning it to suit the needs of whatever organization pays my salary. That's the great thing about data--it can be manipulated to say whatever it is you need it to reflect. I am in the process of breaking down the data relative to Perry, and I promise to enlighten you as soon as I arrive at a conclusion that makes sense. At this point, I don't have enough information at my disposal to pinpoint the exact cause of such a significant drop in scores. It doesn't make sense unless you take into consideration the chaos that the District itself rained down upon the building. While searching for answers, however, I should probably confess that I walk in the "PPS teacher shoes" to which you allude--and have done for many, many years. In fact, if I didn't believe that we could turn things around, I would have retired long before now.

So please enlighten me. I have no idea why you chose to relate the RISE drivel. I despise RISE because, as I've mentioned, I have looked at the data, attended the meetings and read the propaganda. With that said, I fail to see how it relates to this conversation. If you think principals, particularly those who are not PELAs, live and die by RISE, you would be sadly mistaken. There are administrators who find it to be cumbersome, poorly written and geared to allow personalities to have grave consequences on evaluations. With that said, they are still held accountable for using it within their buildings. The administrators who appreciate their staffs, however, apply the RISE rubric with a gentle hand (unless, of course, they are a product of PELA).

As for what makes a great administrator, I think it's a double edged sword. We would probably agree (gasp!) on the qualities of an effective administrator, but many of the things we would mention would demand autonomy--a characteristic of leadership that is simply not recognized in PPS. Are you implying that it is the fault of the principal that he/she has little say over what happens in his/her building? If so, I would counter by telling you that you obviously haven't seen enough of the "board room" on Bellefield. I honestly believe that there are some great admins in buildings just biding their time waiting for a new line up in Oakland.

The venom you have spewed in my direction is, I must admit, a tad confusing. My post was in support of Perry teachers and what they've accomplished. It was also in support of a principal who has a building full of the same kids who raised hell at Oliver. She has managed to transition those kids to Perry with absolutely NO incidents, while at the same time battling the media frenzy that insisted it wasn't possible. The entire post was in defense of the post that asked why she had a job--I was providing the answer. I look at your word choices (i.e. claptrap, great defender, etc.) and wonder why you would chose a pointed and focused post to attack with your irrelevant and meaningless diatribe. Color me confused.

Anonymous said...

I wish to thank you for your missive as it speaks volumes as to who you are and what you believe. Your opening piece proves that:" When it comes to assessment, I would be more than happy to debate, as I have made my living analyzing data and spinning it to suit the needs of whatever organization pays my salary. That's the great thing about data--it can be manipulated to say whatever it is you need it to reflect."

I can say that it is wonderful that you have come out of the proverbial woodwork to write what has been evident to us all. Let me get this right: your game is spin. That you are being paid for it can only be considered remarkable. After this opening comment, do you really believe that any reader of even average intelligence would place any stock in what you have to say?

In contemplating the significant drop in scores, you provide this pearl of wonder: "It doesn't make sense unless you take into consideration the chaos that the District itself rained down upon the building. " You are joking, right? What's next, a tip of the cap to those who chalked it all up to staff movement throughout the district? Do you know how many buildings have discipline situations?

With regard to RISE, you then write: " I have no idea why you chose to relate the RISE drivel. I despise RISE because, as I've mentioned, I have looked at the data, attended the meetings and read the propaganda. With that said, I fail to see how it relates to this conversation."
Perhaps in your haste to write snappy come-backs or spin data, you missed the point: How ironic is it that we will judge the effectiveness of teachers but not touch administration under the same type of system? In your rush to make a pronouncement, you missed the question: Not that a principal should be fired but rather, why is the leader of such a school not under the same scrutiny as the teachers via the RISE process? I will ask you again: have you read the RISE literature? If so, would it not make sense that all individuals within the education equation have some sort of rating process? Where is the venom in such a query?

You have missed the point.

While I am sure that the Perry principal is wonderful, again, I will ask you why she or any principal is not subject to a RISE-type process. I would ask you why it is fair that she or any principal can receive a huge raise but does not receive the same amount of scrutiny that a teacher routinely goes through on a daily basis. The idea of "claptrap" comes when you provide an end-around that fails to answer that question or seeks to divert attention from the question into the realm of a personal attack. On the contrary, I vehemently disavow the need to speak in personal issues. I am just wondering why so many tremendously talented teachers have been sent packing via RISE or furloughs and NO administrators have encountered the same types of attention. That you would call such a line of questioning venomous is almost comical and that you would label your posting "focused" and "pointed" is outrageous, as you danced around or ignored the questions altogether.

Anonymous said...

Hey 6:27,

Who and WHERE is the "2:10" that you are addressing with the long 'soliloquy'?

Seems as though you are addressing quite of few of the comments posted, so one does not know how to set the record straight. One cannot do it for another!

Did you really "not get" what was being said in many of those blogs? They were not essentially disagreeing with as you seem to think???

Anonymous said...

I love the debate its all interesting. But the bottom line is Linda lane and her team is not getting the job done. Its time for her and her crew to be gone. Poof! We need a real leader and proven administrators to turn this ship around. We are hurting our students with these same people in place. What is the board waiting on?

Anonymous said...

What accounted for Allderdice's decline in scores? They didn't have any upheavals did they?

Anonymous said...

good explanation 9/12 10:17- here is another one to ponder-- NCLB figures graduation rates by 4 years from beginning hs-- okay sounds standard BUT we afford special education students education until 21, including vocatiobnal education. So actually NCLB-- which was meant to bring up some low functioning school in America, is again punishing states that do right by their students.

Anonymous said...

If school/districts/states were doing right by kids, educationally, we would not need NCLB.

If nothing else, it pushes schools/districts/states to provide the best education possible for ALL children instead of giving up on those they believe/identify/separate out as "less than capable" by some other test or measure.

Human potential will always be unlimited. None of us will ever reach all that we are capable of being or doing. So lets push the limits of "No Child Left Behind" for all of our kids all of the time.

Anonymous said...

7:39--even the Dice experienced RISE, the script, loss of verteran teachers, and the demoralization of teachers. It just isnt working folks!

Anonymous said...

Just released:

PPS released the WRONG scores! What a joke.

Anonymous said...

I'm still amazed that a building administrator-type, undoubtedly under the auspices of Dr.Poncelet's office, has the balls to write this:

"When it comes to assessment, I would be more than happy to debate, as I have made my living analyzing data and spinning it to suit the needs of whatever organization pays my salary. That's the great thing about data--it can be manipulated to say whatever it is you need it to reflect."

Truly amazing. And sickening. These are the types of carpetbaggers that you see making nice consultancy fees. This is the type of position that largely means we lose a teacher or two to keep such a position "spinning."

It's sickening that someone can be so cavalier as to admit such a thing. It sure gives you a great feeling about "data-driven instruction," doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Re: wrong scores released

They listed the math scores as reading scores. Maybe we need to test the people at Bellefield. PPS just keeps looking more and more incompetent.

Anonymous said...

3:51- You're right. What a shocking statement!

"When it comes to assessment, I would be more than happy to debate, as I have made my living analyzing data and spinning it to suit the needs of whatever organization pays my salary. That's the great thing about data--it can be manipulated to say whatever it is you need it to reflect."

It certainly is a self-refuting admission that while true speaks loudly about the almost total lack of ethics and integrity at central office.

Initially, it seemed more like sarcasm/satire/irony or some type of literary manipulation thrown out there for shock value; but it certainly could be truth and fact.

Understanding the subtlety of this usage requires second-order interpretation of the speaker's intentions
Self-refuting admission

Anonymous said...

"Pittsburgh Public Schools chief of staff Lisa Fischetti said the problem was the district inadvertently listed the 2012 math scores as reading scores."

What does this mean?

Did the repeat math scores for reading?

Did they reverse the reading and math scores?

Is there any competence anywhere in PPS Central Office? Chief of Staff?
Director of Assessment and Accountability, former Ass't.
Superintendent of Secondary School now Ass't Supt. for half of PPS K-12?

Or is there a deeper more manipulative purpose to further confuse the public and obscure the truth?

We'll just have to wait for PDE to release the data in late September since it is difficult to trust anything coming from PPS Central Office.

Anonymous said...

Go on the Post-Gazette website to the article. Read the comments at the end of the article that readers emailed in. Funny!

Anonymous said...

PPS just now put a statement and charts on their website under news and notes.

They should have had that on there before the P-G released it as "breaking news." Someone dropped the ball again.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:51--While I consider myself far too busy to play "neener neener" with what I am assuming is a grown man, I will hesitantly take the bait and try again to enlighten you. As so astutely recognized by Anon 4:16, the comment to which you allude was SARCASM (I am so tempted to follow that with "you MORON", but I'll try to keep it civil). For the record, I am a 24 year veteran teacher in PPS. I hate the RISE system; I despise the Career Ladder joke (I don't get the punch line); I think the Union in its current state is a sham; and I think the indoctrinated PELAs should be sent back to the classroom or to an island where they can spew their rhetoric to one another until their ears bleed. With all that said, I am a realist. Data can be spun. Data is spun. Data can be manipulated. Data is manipulated. Are you so naive as to believe that organizations do not hire "spinners"?? Welcome to the world of the big boys, where the numbers can mean the difference between getting the grants and endowments. If that upsets you, I am truly sorry. The world is a big scary place. Anyone with a little chutzpah, however, could track down those who used to work at central office and were asked to not only MANIPULATE the data, but to downright FALSIFY it.

I initially posted to defend a principal who had been called to task because her scores dropped 30%. My GOD, how does she keep her job? Let's get the pitch forks! Light the torches! Oh, wait, they didn't drop 30%? But, but...they dropped 19.6%!! Grab more torches and prepare the rope and stake! And yet...hang on...let's look at the scores themselves. Oh my! Perry's bottom line scores are IN line with other city schools of similar size and demographics. Perry had further to fall after making AYP last year and reducing the gap between white and Af. Am. reading scores the year before. I'm not saying the loss was acceptable. Quite the contrary. What I AM saying is that you don't fire a principal or call her to task when the bottom line numbers are almost identical to those of other schools. If that becomes the norm, teachers will need to be on a heightened sense of alert (if that's possible), because if you are going to hold the principals accountable, the teachers will certainly need to be held to the same standard, losing their jobs as well. SURELY you aren't advocating that every teacher who has kids who see lower test scores than the year before should be terminated! Or IS that what you're saying?? If so, which teachers? The ones who had the kids in elementary school? Who followed up and built on those skills in middle school? Oh no, must be the ninth grade teachers who introduced them to high school...or the tenth grade teachers who tried to teach fundamentally flawed curriculum. No? Ah...the 11th grade teachers then! The ones who also had to teach inane curriculum while at the same time attempted to prepare students for a test that predicts NOTHING.

One last comment before I start on next week's lesson plans (did I mention I'm a TEACHER??). Principals don't all get bonuses. Principals are also subjected to the same sort of evaluation process as the teachers. While the teacher is evaluated independently of all others in his/her department or school, the principal is evaluated based on the scores of all the teachers in his/her building. Think that's fair? Consider this--principals don't get to "pick" their staff. The staff is thrust upon them by those at the District level. Now THERE'S a system for ya!

Anonymous said...

I’m no statistician, but the “new” numbers posted on the District web are a huge difference from the original numbers, but of course the District downplays it as a “transposition error”. This blatant error lies in the Office of Research under Poncelet. I don’t trust any of these numbers. Why does the State leave it up to school district’s to surmise their own PSSA results to determine how well students did from one year to the next? I thought this type of analysis would come from the State.

Anonymous said...

it would be nice to know if someone attending the ed comm meeting saw something that pointed to the faulty figures. the explanation is hard to understand.

It looks like something magical continues to happen to 8th graders and they perform well on the test. good for them.

Anonymous said...

Comment from a P-G article reader

Jill Diskin · Carnegie Mellon University
"This misinformation may be the result of stretched staffing resources at the Pittsburgh Public Schools central office. It must be a challenge operating with limited resources."

She obviously doesn't understand the situation. "Stretched staffing central office." There are so many people in central office, no mistakes should be made.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the comment about "spinning" as being sarcasm. Someone said that these people act in a cavalier manner and this is yet another example.
They are seemingly bullet-proof in all of the mayhem and even brag to you as such.

I am praying that Gates money runs out next year. I am praying that the facade of being on the cutting edge is destroyed and Pittsburgh is looked at like any other urban district: with high and lows...and problems that must be solved.

The corporate model that Roosevelt brought is a complete and utter failure.

Anonymous said...

How could anyone *trust* the numbers when some smart alec who works in research blatantly boasts that they can spin numbers any way you like?

It's a shell game.....and the numbers are like believing in the tooth fairy.

Questioner said...

Wait this is crazy. The wrong numbers were presented at a lengthy meeting with Board members on Monday and NO ONE NOTICED?

That can't be true. Maybe it was just the information given to the reporter that was incorrect?

Anonymous said...

Questioner, I submitted a post in response to the attacks on my original post--did it not come through or was it vetted?? Thanks!

Questioner said...

Can you send it again, sometimes when posts are fast and furious one might slip by. The only one vetoed recently was one that included name calling.

Anonymous said...

Refreshed my browser and it's there! Sorry for the misunderstanding!

Anonymous said...

To 7:15 - Those who attended the Education Meeting did not get the statistics that Eleanor Chute received. Only the Board members had copies in their binders. The stats were not in the handouts for those in attendance including A+ Schools attendees.

Really, PDE is the only data that you can trust. It seems PPS tries to get its adapted version out before PDE posts online the official data in late September.

The "appeal" process takes place in August for all PA districts, so it takes until September to post the official data. (PPS had its first PDE report on student scores on July 3rd and school data at the end of July. So, they have had enough time to get it right!

Anonymous said...

5:57, I'll suppose that you are a grown woman. As such, let me say this: your hysteria unhinges you. Perhaps it tempers your ability to read in a coherent frame of mind.
For the record, the point remains that administrators should be held to the same levels of accountability as teachers. And if you knew anything, you would recognize the idea that it is my contention that NO teacher should have been furloughed this past summer and that RISE is a shell game for salary dumping.
why is that so hard for you to understand?

While I can salute your comments on curriculum and RISE et al, many of your accusations and assumptions sound almost, well, "venomous."
You can have the last word here as it appears that correcting previous postings and further explaining the difficult jobs of building principals seems to be your forte when you aren't "spinning numbers."

Thanks for reminding me that you are a teacher. I am sure that your sarcasm and laugh riot postings would have fooled many readers.

Anonymous said...

5:57, I'll suppose that you are a grown woman. As such, let me say this: your hysteria unhinges you. Perhaps it tempers your ability to read in a coherent frame of mind.
For the record, the point remains that administrators should be held to the same levels of accountability as teachers. And if you knew anything, you would recognize the idea that it is my contention that NO teacher should have been furloughed this past summer and that RISE is a shell game for salary dumping.
why is that so hard for you to understand?

While I can salute your comments on curriculum and RISE et al, many of your accusations and assumptions sound almost, well, "venomous."
You can have the last word here as it appears that correcting previous postings and further explaining the difficult jobs of building principals seems to be your forte when you aren't "spinning numbers."

Thanks for reminding me that you are a teacher. I am sure that your sarcasm and laugh riot postings would have fooled many readers.

Anonymous said...

Bravo 5:57! Very nicely stated!

It is too often that some resort to repetitive verbage that misreads, misinterprets, or just doesn't understand words as written.

Pay attention to the facts here (although PPS and E. Chute often lead to false "facts"). Reporters are obligated to search out the facts, rather than print the "spin" or contrived press releases. So, what's going on with that?

In any event the reply helps keep it more straight than not. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

In the good old days the Roosevelt/Fischetti/Lane/Weiss administration would blame - often hysterically - Chief Fadzen for any and all bad news stories. Well, he's gone, and ironically, you now can't buy a good news story.

Anonymous said...

How much confidence does anyone have now that the value added measures used to calculate bonuses are correct?

Anonymous said...

Pittsburgh is certainly thrusting itself into the national debate on school reform and not in a very positive way.

Anonymous said...

1:01 is an example of either someone patting herself on the back--which I wouldn't put past the number spinner---or someone completely out of touch with what it is going on in PPS. What a ridiculous posting, that comes on the heels of numerous ludicrous postings from the Perry fan.

Anonymous said...

I think it's hysterical with all of the Central Office staff being paid millions of dollars in salaries, and of course all of the PhD's in the building, that this “transposition error” could even happen! So how can they educate our children with their so called current curriculum????? LOL PPS is a joke!
The laughing stock of Pennsylvania!

Anonymous said...

Poncelet needs to be FIRED. Plain and simple. Her salary could have gone to 4 teachers' salaries. Instead, I'm certain, she will receive yet another 15K bonus this year. Board Members, WAKE UP!

Anonymous said...

I think the "number spinner" here actually made it clear with her posting about spinning data to mean whatever you want. Yeah, she came back and called it sarcasm, yadda, yadda, yadda, but her comments sound like everyone else on Bellefield Avenue. Yes, the Marie Antoinette syndrome: teachers and parents can eat cake.
Poncelet's office is unnecessary, as are her "numbers spinners." We need teachers, not snake oil salesmen.

Anonymous said...

3:43, and yet you fail to point out a single "ludicrous" statement. Go Commodores! Seriously, if you read what I have written, we are on the same page up to and until you group all building admins with the line up of incompetents housed on Bellefield.

Where, by the way, are your SOLUTIONS? Here are a few suggestions (for all buildings, not just Perry).

First and foremost, let's hire curriculum writers educated in the science of curriculum writing. The philosophy should be shared objectives and autonomy to meet those objectives. District level pacing guidelines, in light of the plethora of testing, in service days, etc., is unrealistic. Allow teachers the ability to remediate instead of clock watching the calendar to avoid supervisor retribution for not covering what amounts to a year of material in nine weeks.

Second, stop the central office mandate that schools reduce suspensions. Let's allow principals and other building admins to lower the boom. Kids who can't follow the rules need to be dealt a dose of reality--society isn't going to care if you are angry, disenfranchised, etc. Let's prepare them for the real world.

Third, therapeutic classrooms need to be returned to every high school in the city. Kids who need intensive interventions need these resources.

Fourth, reduce class sizes to 20-25. Our classrooms are not supposed to resemble college lecture halls.

Fifth, eliminate the RISE initiative and let's start over, with faculty involvement, to design a fair, unbiased system for measuring teacher effectiveness. Let's focus on helping teachers to hone their art, and let's stop punishing them for not falling into the Stepford teacher model that is the brainchild of the Lippert, French, Lane triumvirate.

Sixth, and related to number five, for the love of all things holy, get rid of TRIPOD. I would love to meet a single person who has had daily contact with teenagers who believes in TRIPOD. Kids are smart, and some are master manipulators. Knowing they have the ability to have an effect on a teacher’s evaluation and ultimate destiny can have chilling repercussions. Mob mentality is a high school given. Don’t believe that? Check out YouTube for vids of kids fighting. What starts with two can quickly spread to 20. Apply that to TRIPOD, and you can have a single student with a vendetta (perhaps based on a suspension, a reprimand, etc.) with the ability to sway the mood in the classroom on the day the TRIPOD is being administered. For the most part, kids don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow—we know they live in the moment. God help the teacher who doesn’t massage and coddle that moment when the students are filling in the bubbles next to questions such as “Does your teacher care about you?”.

Sixth, allow principals autonomy in their buildings. Bernie Komoroski, former District Principal, was one of the most incredible, effective and beloved administrators ever to run a building in PPS. With that said, he no doubt would have been rejected as a PELA, as his unorthodox methods would have sent Lippert into a frothing fit.

Follow these six guidelines to get us started (this is by no means a definitive list), and test scores WILL go up. Look at the research (the research with the numbers that are spun in favor of these initiatives of course.. ;) ).

So, to the person on the attack here, let’s hear YOUR solutions. Present them without the venom and vitriol. I’m listening.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:58 you need a handle so when it appears readers can sit up and take notice and gain from your insights.