A+ Schools Releases Report to the Community

Lindsay Cashman Advocacy, Opportunities for Success

A+Schools released their annual Report to the Community regarding public schools in Pittsburgh on November 21. They found both positive outcomes and areas of improvement. Below find an excerpt from the report’s press release:

More students in Pittsburgh Public Schools’ regular schools are graduating than four years ago, but gaps in opportunities and achievement persist” said James Fogarty, Executive Director of A+ Schools…

Some positive highlights in the data include:

  • Graduation rates improved from 75% in 2011-12 to 79% in 2014-15 for Pittsburgh’s 9-12 and 6-12 schools (excluding special schools and centers).
  • Two neighborhood schools, three magnet schools, and one charter school had gaps in student achievement of less than ten points on some standardized tests.
  • 60% of the district’s seniors overall earned grade point averages that qualified them for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship (2.5 or higher), two percentage points higher than in 2012 (but 5 points less than last year). The disparity between black and white students has decreased by 6 points compared to 2012.
  • While student suspension rates remain comparable to 2015, there is hope as some of the high schools with historically high rates of suspension, were able to decrease rates in 2016.

But Fogarty noted that while the district is to be commended for the progress it is making, there are some sobering trends in the data that call for urgent action… Pittsburgh Public Schools have some significant challenges according to the data that need to be addressed that include:

  • The new PA core standards (now in their second year of implementation) in grades 3-8 reveal increased challenges for all students and especially in closing achievement gaps, with the gaps in the majority of schools increasing.
  • Student growth (measured by PVAAS data) in English Language Arts/Literature and Mathematics/Algebra did not meet the state standard in 21 out of 50 schools and 27 out of 50 schools respectively.
  • Suspensions and chronic absenteeism continue as major barriers to student learning.  High school students have the highest suspension and chronic absenteeism rates. The high school suspension rate is 30% and 41% of students were absent more than 10% of school days (chronically absent).  In two of Pittsburgh’s schools, approximately two-thirds of students were chronically absent.
  • Student need (poverty) is not a predictor of spending – school size and configuration are the only significant predictors of spending, with the largest investments made at the smallest schools, those with fewer than 300 students.
  • While over 200 more students attended Pittsburgh Public Schools in the 2015-16 school year,  over the past four years enrollment has declined by 1,340 students.

A+ Schools has mailed the report directly to thirty thousand city households with children enrolled in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and children under age five. In addition, the report will be available in local libraries, city schools and at elected officials’ offices, or by calling A+ Schools at 412-697-1298. The full report — and information on A+ Schools and its programs for parents, students and community members — can be accessed online at www.aplusschools.org. Community members are urged to review the report as a tool to ask questions and seek information about the quality of schools.

Read the full report from A+Schools here.