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Lane recognizes 10 Pittsburgh schools for progress

| Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, 2:50 p.m.

Amid the banging of African drums, Pittsburgh Public Schools honored academic growth by students in 10 schools under new formulas for measuring how teachers help students learn.

“I'm here to celebrate you and what you've done in the school year,” Superintendent Linda Lane told students and staff at Dilworth PreK-5 in East Liberty during an awards ceremony on Monday.

Dilworth received the Students and Teachers Achieving Results award, or STAR, along with Pittsburgh Brookline, Fulton, South Hills, Sunnyside, Whittier and Weil schools. Fort Pitt attained the honor but closed this year.

The new model compares schools in Pittsburgh with schools elsewhere in the state. It accounts for students' prior performance on state tests; poverty; race; and whether students have a special need, said Matthew Johnson of Mathematica Policy Research, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. He is deputy project director for Mathematica's work on STAR.

“It's much more important to look at achievement growth and not look at achievement levels,” Johnson said. “When you're just looking at achievement levels, most of that tells you is what type of student went to the school.”

The schools were rewarded for finishing in the top 25 percent statewide in academic growth. The district honors at least eight schools for finishing in the top 15 percent in academic growth statewide. If eight schools don't make the cut, it recognizes schools in the top 25 percent statewide. Fulton, South Hills, Sunnyside and Whittier are the schools in the top 15 percent in the state for academic growth. Weil and Brookline were in the top 25 percent.

In addition, the district honored Pittsburgh Conroy, Oliver and Pioneer for serving students with special needs, measuring the schools in such areas as attendance and behavior.

This marks the first year of the awards program, which pays teachers and other professionals up to $6,000 a year extra. The program is part of the district's contract with its union.

Josh Aderholt, director of strategic compensation for the district, said the program will award nearly $2.1 million this year to more than 500 teachers, social workers, nurses and other professionals covered by the contract. Of that, 80 percent comes from the federal Teachers Incentive Fund and 20 percent from the district.

“It's nice for my faculty to be honored for all their hard work and dedication,” said Monica Lamar, principal of Dilworth.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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