Monday, April 13, 2015

PPS HS rankings; PSSA article

Anonymous wrote:


New Post: 
Two NEWS venues dealing with PPS are out today? 
1) The Pittsburgh Business Times ranks 5 of 9 PPS high schools in the bottom 15 schools in our region of Western Pennsylvania. Those in the bottom 15--- from highest to lowest are---CARRICK, BRASHEAR, PERRY, MILLIONES and WESTINGHOUSE. 

The Business Times ranks PITTSBURGH PUBLIC SCHOOLS as 466 out of 493. 

Today's PG shows why PPS is so LOW in ACHIEVEMENT. The article by Eleanor Chute, based on her interviews with Pittsburgh Staff, reveals a complete lack of knowledge about Pennsylvania Standards & Assessments! The mis-representatio of structure and content is alarming. 


Questioner said...

What exactly did the article misrepresent about the structure and content of the PSSA?

Misrepresentation implies an intention to deceive- is there a misrepresentation, or just a statement that appears to be incorrect?

Anonymous said...

Questioner: Seems like some of the "mis-representations" are identified in the comments below the article. Check it out.

Anonymous said...

The original poster said: "The article by Eleanor Chute, based on her interviews with Pittsburgh Staff, reveals a complete lack of knowledge about Pennsylvania Standards & Assessments!"

I read the linked article. It doesn't say anything about Eleanor Chute interviewing anybody. There's a couple of we're-getting-ready type quotes, and that's it.

Anonymous said...

So 5:41, you are saying that Matt Stem, acting state deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education along with Allison McCarthy, executive director of curriculum, instruction and assessment and Donna Micheaux have a complete lack of knowledge about Pennsylvania Standards & Assessments?

Would you care to elaborate and inform the public in a letter to the editor?

Anonymous said...


Can you cite the evidence for your accusations against the staff interviewed by Eleanor Chute?

Anonymous said...

Clearly, the article's intent is to lower expectations for any significant up-turn in achievement levels.

Anonymous said...

How did Eleanor Chute get the information to print especially the quotes that have names if she didn't interview them? Or did PPS write the information down and give it to her.

Anonymous said...

Often times, people who are in positions for a very short period of time or have worked in other states don't have accurate information about certain states.

Pennsylvania is not the same as Massachusetts, or New York, or Virginia, or Texas, or Oklahoma, etc.

Check it out. Standards, CCSS, "structures and content", options out of CCSS, old standards, new standards---every state is different.

Oftentimes Superintendents, assistants, deputies, executive directors are new to the state, new to the positions, new to the standards, new to the rules and regulations, new to the "structures", new to the content, etc. and, they just don't know.

Sometimes they get information online that doesn't apply to Pennsylvania.

We all know that there are lots of facts that some folks just don't know; but, the students are the ones who pay the price when adult educators don't know what they are supposed to know. It’s easy to blame the kids, their parents, their community when the fact remains that the adults in the school system just didn't know the Pennsylvania standards and assessments. Is that so hard to believe? Really?

Questioner said...

But what exactly don't they know and what was misrepresented? It is not clear from the comments to the article.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes even the former Chiefs at PDE and the ARL's have never worked on PA Core Standards or PSSA or Keystones, so they can't possibly know what's real or not.

9:33 probably gets it with the comment about lowering expectations. It good PR.

What is needed is a little honesty and commitment to get it right for students!

Anonymous said...

Actually, the comments in the PG only touch on the problems that exist with curricula, instruction and assessment at PPS. While the article is full of mistakes, errors, mis-representations, inaccuracies, etc. there are many, many more that have been a part of presentations that have been given in schools, communities, and at the Board of Education.

Just ask the ARLs OR others who have experience.

PPS won't listen to anyone unfortunately for the children.

Anonymous said...

Do you think the PG would print such a letter to the editor, Questioner. They haven't so far? Why now? What has changed?

Anonymous said...


You are saying that there are "lots" of facts that "some" folks don't know. Allison McCarthy and Donna Micheaux,being the folks in question don't know what they need to know because they have been in positions for a short period of time under Pennsylvania State Standards?


Are you excusing their ignorance or holding them accountable ?

Questioner said...

What are the mistakes, errors and misrepresentations specifically?

The 8:50 comment suggesting a letter to the editor is not a Questioner comment, but public awareness is always a good step toward making change possible.

Anonymous said...

If what is needed 10:31 is a little honesty and commitment to get it right for the students then ,yes, by all means write as many letters to the editor making your case to as many publications as appropriate, including the Business Times until their mail over flows with letters from you.

The students deserve it. Right?

Anonymous said...

8:50 - Matt Stern makes no misrepresentation in his statement. He alone is absolutely correct when he states the following:
"Matt Stem, acting state deputy secretary for elementary and secondary education, said much of the content on this year’s assessment tests was on the old test because there is significant overlap between old and new standards."

"Significant overlap" is the key! Researchers have published the "overlap" at 87%. between so-called "old" and "new" PSSA. 87% of our old PA Reading Standards alone ARE the quote "new" PA Core Standards (meaning very, very little is "new". Therein lies the huge difference between the PPS statements (repeated erroneously over and over at every presentation) and the PDE statements in Eleanor Chute's article.

Thank you Matt Stem for your honesty and clarity!

Anonymous said...

Could you clarify or quote the erroneous statements made by PPS (Donna Micheaux and Allison McCarthy ) in the article so that we can better understand the huge difference?

Anonymous said...


For honesty and clarity specify for us the mistakes,errors, mis-representations and inaccuracies that are blatant in the article.

Anonymous said...

Every statement that wasn't a personal hope, feeling or opinion was in serious error, such that student achievement has not improved and will not improve until someone learns the skills that must be taught to students in order to acquire a basic minimal education.

Anonymous said...

In your opinion you distinguish between fact and opinion.

Anonymous said...


What you say here could be either fact or opinion, or possibly even both. It depends on whether the statement is based on evidence or if it is an unsupported idea based on belief.

You would need statistics to verify your claim and make it a fact.

Questioner said...

What is the serious error in these statements for example:

"The questions have more complex text, both in English language arts and math. Certain two-part questions call on students to choose more than one answer in the second part."

Anonymous said...

Do you think that Donna Micheaux or Allison McCarthy could explain in detail a single standard without reading from notes? Do you think that either could TEACH a single standard to students? Do think that each of these ladies can tell you about the development, the progression, the value, or the specific use of a single PA Core Standard? Do you think they could talk about the 87% of CCSS that are identical to the "old" PA Standards? Do you think that they can talk in specifics about one "new" standard and why it was added to the "old" 87%. Do you think that either could give you an example of what "complexity" is and how it is different or separate from a former skill/standard? Do you think they can tell you what makes the test "harder"? And on and on . . . The evidence shows that they cannot do that and yet they are in executive positions! And YES, there are very definitive, detailed and "specific" answers and examples for all of the preceding questions! However, neither the leaders nor the students can provide them! Is that par for the course????

Anonymous said...

I see Uprep moved up a notch.

Anonymous said...


When the PSSA's were first rolled out a decade or so ago what was the plan on the part of the developers to educate the educators in a way that they would be 'proficient' in all aspects of the PSSA's and the subsequent CCSS?

I'm assuming that you can dot your i's and cross all the t's when it comes to these assessments_____________what is your solution to the lack of knowledge and preparedness of all involved ?

Anonymous said...

Excellent question 7:42. The work on developing 'proficiency' for educators so that all PA students would become "proficient" and "advanced" was wide, deep and ongoing in PA for the last 10 years.
1)The SAS website is a RESOURCE beyond the imagination of most educators. PPS does not and has not, over 10 years, attended the multiple-times-per year training and PD sessions that are held free-cost-to-PA-educators.
2) PDE sent "teams of experts" into PA's 30 lowest achieving districts at NO COST to the District to assist them in multiple ways. PPS's Mark Roosevelt was permitted by the Governor to REJECT that team because he had 'another plan'.

That is when PPS began to fall farther and farther behind. (We have the actual PDE data.) YES, a book could be written about the “travesty” for Pittsburgh’s public school children under the leadership that has taken PPS in directions that benefitted adults, not children. The facts regarding the decline in PPS have irrefutable evidence.

Solutions are available that will advance achievement 30 POINTS in a year in our PPS lowest achieving schools, but the doors are literally barred to those with knowledge, skill and commitment.

Anonymous said...

What's keeping you from writing the Book 8:45 AM ?

You clearly have the knowledge, skill, commitment , and journalistic ability to publish .

Do you have the courage?

Anonymous said...

UPrep has moved up 3 pts in Reading and dropped 2 pts in Math over the last FIVE years

More that 60% of the students at Uprep are not proficient in Reading and Math after 5 years of help from the University? What is happening at Uprep?

Science is at zero "proficiency" and the consultant is a science teacher????

Where's the "notch up" progress 3:12?

Anonymous said...

8:45 states: " Solutions are available that will advance achievement 30 POINTS in a year in our PPS lowest achieving schools, but the doors are literally barred to those with knowledge, skill and commitment."

The question becomes why are the doors barred? If what you are saying is true____ it defies logic not to be receptive.

There is more to the story here and the guess is ' personalities '
have muddied the purest of intentions.

Navigating those waters require deft hands .

Anonymous said...

Thanks 9:36, right now my preference is to be a "critical friend". Writing books takes too much time and would result in distancing one from the "struggle" at hand. The children in PPS majority schools need us to put in place a system that works for them. Having engaged in that process, successfully, at too many levels to cite, for more than 30 years, my “purpose” now is to voluntarily share that knowledge, first hand, wherever, in the final analysis, it is accepted! That takes much more than courage! Additionally, it takes persistence, building relationships, standing strong for students, and forging open pathways to the goals.

Anonymous said...


I'm not 8:45, but the doors are barred because those in power now do not want to share ANY of their power with anyone outside of their tight little circle.

These people will not even allow teachers to make the slightest modification to the canned lesson plans.

It's all about power, and taking credit where they can.

Questioner said...

Based on results, few at PPS have accepted the offer and there is little indication that will change.

Anonymous said...

We all would welcome "deft hands"!

Some very deft hands have been engaged in the process for 10, 20, 30 years without results.

It most certainly IS about personalities, NOT CHILDREN, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Sooner or later Broad and Gates are going to want a return on their investment and if PPS can't deliver... the monies will funnel elsewhere.

Power needs more than a tight little circle with barred doors.

As has been said many many times....get the facts out in print for public consumption.

Those critical thinking skills will find away to do that.

Anonymous said...


"Critical Friend" rarely translates into advocacy when egos cling to power.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "critical friend" is easily misinterpreted as I learned recently in a phone call from a friend. It often seems that advocacy for children is interpreted as criticism for adults in positions of authority.

As someone at CUE stated recently, it is heart-breaking that ". . . we can’t all work together . . ."

Let us turn that around so that ALL become ADVOCATES for CHILDREN and part of a TEAM, with varied strengths, communicating and collaborating toward a goal that brings “standards” and “congruence” to education in PPS.

Anonymous said...

"Sooner or later Broad and Gates are going to want a return on their investment and if PPS can't deliver... the monies will funnel elsewhere."

No they accomplished their goals-- destroy learning in urban schools/ stamp out genuine teaching and creativity-- create scripted workers.
Kill all discussion by academic professionals--create a revolving door of young teachers like teach for America- no one over 5 years in schools-
Newsflash for those who are against seniority-- in those districts with high scores-- parents fight to get their students into classes of seasoned teachers who will collaborate to solve student's learning issues.
Note the citizens of these neighborhoods are against alot of things-- but seniority isnt one of them.
Another Broad/
Gates goal checked off-- get the taxpayers to drink the kool-aid!

Anonymous said...

Milliones has the highest per student cost among all PPS 6-12 and 9-12. It is more than $2,000 per student higher! Only Woolslair and Whittier are a few hundred more.