Monday, February 4, 2013

Report on school absences

From the PG:


Questioner said...

Could a later start time improve high school attendance?

And could the closing of schools be having an effect, making it more difficult for students to get to school when buses are missed,etc?

Were the savings worth whatever effects on attendance the closings had? Maybe a better strategy would have been to keep the schools but just use a smaller portion of the building.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the curricula, the PPS methods of teaching and learning, and the PELA and RISE programs are out of sync with meeting the needs of children?

There are many, many other questions that could be asked?

Why are PPS schools places where children don't want to be or don't find the effort to get there worth it? (Whether the school is near or far?)

Why did nearly 3500 kids leave for charter schools that are not necessarily close to home?

Lots and lots of questions about WHY kids are not coming to our city schools?

Kids will come if schools are places where they feel good about what's happening there! It could be the best place to be in a world full of problems! How can we make it such a place? That is the solution; but it can't be a one way or the highway method.

Questioner said...

School could be the best place in the universe but if a child in Northview Heights for example misses the bus, a mother with a younger child and/or an appointment to keep my not make it to a bus with the children to eventually get to school.

Anonymous said...

So, you think that the extraordinary degree of absences indicated in the article are all due to children missing the bus day after day?

Is that realistic? Really?

Questioner said...

It is entirely possible for children to miss the bus once every two weeks for a ten percent absent rate. Add in sickness and issues at home and you are well over ten percent.

Anonymous said...

LOL, is it possible?! Surely. I know a family at our bus stop that missed the bus three days out of 5 many weeks. They did have a car and parents with flexible enough schedules that one could always drop the kids off, but absolutely it's possible.

And that was a late starting elementary school, where the kids enjoyed going. Imagine that same family having kids who need to be at school an hour and a half or more earlier in the morning!

Do grown-ups always get places on time? Even places they like? Do grown-ups always settle in to doing the right thing without procrastinating, daydreaming, chatting?

Anonymous said...

Here is another view from the article. A comparative analysis is something we might want to do here:

City charter school Absenteeism:

"Of the four providing data on chronic absenteeism, the range was from
4 percent at Propel Northside to
14 percent at the Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School."

PPS: "Absenteeism rates . . .

Perry, 60 percent;
Carrick, 59 percent;
Milliones, 54 percent;
Brashear, 45 percent;
Westinghouse, 38 percent;
Schiller, 36 percent;
Woolslair K-5, 37 percent;
Allderdice, 24 percent."

Quite a dramatic difference between PPS and Charters!

Questioner said...

Things that pass on a 5-4 board vote, like closing Northview, are usually a bad idea.

Questioner said...

Don't the charters have later start times?

Anonymous said...

From the article:

The Superintendent: "Ms. Lane said the report provides a "snapshot in time."

Yes, and the time is NOW, with the current administration(s) in district and schools!

(This was not always the case, believe it or not.)

Anonymous said...

"Perry, 60 percent"

Am I reading that correctly? Does that really mean that on an average school day, 60% of Perry students are marked absent?

If so, that's the loudest alarm that I have ever heard.

Questioner said...

No it means 60% of perry students have a 10% absent rate.

Anonymous said...

Things have gotten worse since Linda Lane became superintdent and wont get better until she is gone. She simply does not understand the urban enviroment she is working in. Where is she from anyway? That might explain the disconect.

Anonymous said...

Where did you get that information?

Questioner said...

The pg article in the main post for this thread ("chronic absenteeism" ).

Anonymous said...

It's not just about Lane and her crew but also PPS Board Members responsible for signing off on continued failing policies and the ineffective leadership of the PFT President, Nina Esposito. They all have culpability on why PPS continues to fail our students.

The one size fits all curriculum makes no sense. Teachers are held to the fidelity and pacing of the curriculum which we all know just doesn't work for all children in all schools. Besides that, the strategy for guiding instruction in many content areas is redundant and boring. Read this, identify and write down critical points, partner pair share, large group share-out, record responses, make decisions, conjectures, interpretations, or evaluate whatever the assignment was and respond in essay format. This type of process is similar in just about every content and is repeated over and over again. And we continue to wonder why our students aren't performing to an acceptable level?

Then there is a Board that just about rubber stamps everything the administration proposes. Do they ever READ what they vote on or do they just rely on what the Central Officers tell them? I'm inclined to say it's the latter. Just think about Schenley. Did even one Board Member take the time to read the entire report or did they just take mark' word for it because he was the superintendent and a good guy? We can only count on Holley to ask the tough questions then again, she was a teacher and principal so she has a clue about what to ask. That should tell us all something.

Now we come to the union. Esposito and her predecessor, Tarka sold out our members by agreeing to the RISE process that's supposed to identify behaviors of highly effective teachers. These folks bought into the reform efforts of Gates, Walton’s and Broad while hanging teachers out to dry. At no time have I ever heard our Union address the question how can a teachers rating be based on student test scores of students who are absent more than 10% of class time? Teachers can't teach ghosts and they should not be held accountable for student performance of those who are absent more than 10% of the time. Yet these non attending student scores are averaged into a teachers VAM score. Our failed PFT leadership has consistently refused to address the issue of student absenteeism as a factor that impacts a teacher's effectiveness score as measured by testing data.

I believe that CO, Board Members and PFT Leadership have all bowed to the money of big reform funders while abandoning the students they are supposed to serve, the teachers who have been entrusted to educate the children, the parents who send their children to PPS and the taxpayers who foot the bill!

Anonymous said...

Asked d why friend was absent for third day in a row answer: probably missed the bus again.

Anonymous said...

If a kid misses a yellow bus how should he get to school? At a board meeting early in ths school year you'd have thought that Mr. Vassar was retiring so much praise was heaped on him for cutting costs with Yellow buses. Read the audit and apparently several operationl deficiences have existed in the transportation dept. We need to know how much going yellow has contributed to the decline in attendance.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Heard a sound bite on the radio, KQV perhaps, that I liked. Doctor Lane said kids need to "show up."

There is plenty of value in that part of the formula for winning.

Our first Schenley Swimming T-shirt slogan said:

"Winning formula = Show up + Score more points."

Just wanted to give a virtual fist-pump to the buzz words, ... "Show up."

Another t-shirt give out this fall at a coaches clinic said, "Show up" in big print and then in smaller and smaller print it said, "then repeat, then repeat, then repeat, etc."

Anonymous said...

Doctor Lane said kids need to "show up."

Really? And how many people out there didn't know that?

Dr Lane needs to offer some very specific steps to solve the absentee problem. Vague statements like "show up" just won't do.

Anonymous said...

If the attitude and tension among adults in the schools is as bad as we are seeing and hearing, why would any kid who could avoid it, show up?

Sounds like missing the bus is a very good option, to avoid showing up!

If the people IN the schools cannot
"envision" a better situation, and execute it, the children will not "be there", they will "be lost" to a better future.

Anonymous said...

"is it possible that the curricula, the PPS methods of teaching and learning and the PELA and RISE programs are out of sync with meeting the needs of children."

The news report mentions that the IB school did not do very well. Is there a problem with the IB curriculum? It is a well respected curriculum. It does not have a PELA principal, and parents say they are pretty much happy with the teaching.

Anonymous said...

8:30 - It is most likely (since first hand experience with Obama's teaching/learning process is not available) that the "STANDARDS" skills (thinking, analyzing, differentiating, inferencing, generalizing, supporting conclusions, comparing/contrasting, citing the evidence, evaluating, reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives, etc., etc.) have not been brought deliberately to a conscious level of awareness with students as they process the IB curricula.

Students must be able to use these types of skills (STANDARDS) as an embedded part of the daily interactions with people and texts (across content areas) and KNOW the skills that they are using in every part of the IB curricula.

PPS curricula does not do this in a way that the skills are consciously developed.

Teachers have not been given the kind of professional development that emphasizes these skills in a way that enables them to embed the skills in all activities.

PPS has rejected all offers (free of charge) to provide this type of professional development. (Reasons not known.)

PPS students (all of them) have been put at-risk, unnecessarily.

Anonymous said...

9:51 - Many professors and instructors at local universities and post-secondary institutions frequently comment that PPS students have not been taught how to think. It is an ongoing problem for them.

Its probably hard for teachers to stray from the scripted or managed curriculum.

It could also be because PPS people do not attend PDE educator sessions or conferences where the standards are taught.

They, meaning PPS, didn't attend the PDE conference for educators in Hershey in December and they didn't attend the PDE conference at Station Square last week!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the travel budget was cut and there was no way to get staff to Station Square.

Anonymous said...

Surely you joke?

Other districts found a way to get staff to Station Square from Scranton, Philadelphia and all points between from one end of the state to the other?

Or how about getting in your car and driving 2, 3, 5 miles, not 200 or 300 miles??

Mark Rauterkus said...

More specific remembering, Dr. Lane said something like many of our kids don't understand the value of just showing up. She didn't just tell em to show up.

The Pgh Promise also has a benchmark with attendance to qualify for the scholarship. Solid reinforcement.

Anonymous said...

In schools with lower absentee rates, grades are tied to attendance. If you miss more than 6 or 7 days in a term, your grade is lowered. PPS used to do the same thing. Last year, that policy was dropped. If there are no consequences for missing school, why show up?

Questioner said...

Some teachers this year noted in their class information sheets that per district policy students must not miss more than 15% of classes, regardless of whether absences are excused or not.

February 5, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:11--I think that the attendance policy was taken to court, and found to be illegal and that is one reason for the change this year

Anonymous said...

Just go the Magistrate’s Office during the week-Ravenstal’s office right across the street from Perry.-all of the schools mentioned in the North Side go to him.
Just sit and you’ll be shocked. Full of PPS students.

Yes, closing neighborhood schools hurt Northview-they once went to Woolslair a year ago as a feeder school.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Update on good authority:

Coach Jackson, assistant basketball coach for boys team at Pgh Obama, once terminated, is now reinstated.

Yes! He'll be back on the bench and with the squad.

By the way, our swim team senior night was GREAT. The Bishop Canevin bus was late so it gave us some extra time to celebrate. Our boys varsity team at Pgh Obama won Section 6 of the WPIAL Class AA!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Coach Mark and the Obama swim team.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Coach Mark and the Obama swim team!!!!

A great congrats!

I wonder if Canevin uses the same bus service as PPS?!

In this case -their lateness was a good for PPS Obama Swim Team!!!