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The A+ report: Face of failure

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Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012, 8:59 p.m.

Nearly one-third, 31.5 percent, of Pittsburgh Public Schools students did not graduate in 2012.

An estimated 42 percent of seniors don't even carry a 2.5 grade-point average. That's a midlevel C.

For black students, that number is a shocking 61 percent. And the achievement gap between white and black students has grown.

Those are some of the lousy results from the latest annual district report card, as compiled by A+ Public Schools. It's pretty stunning what half-a-billion dollars a year won't buy. That's the district's annual budget ($522 million, to be precise).

And the declining performance comes even with a carrot at the end of a long string on a big stick — The Pittsburgh Promise, which guarantees college and/or training scholarships of $10,000 a year, even for decidedly mediocre students.

Oh, and the Pittsburgh district also is one of nine statewide being investigated for state testing “irregularities,” the educratic system's euphemism for cheating.

Outrageously, Superintendent Linda Lane proffers some weak if not shocking rationales for the declines.

Perhaps teachers fearing furloughs stopped doing their jobs, she effectively says.

Or perhaps they didn't sufficiently encourage students to do well on assessment tests, fearing it might violate state testing rules, Ms. Lane adds.

And perhaps a pack of dogs ate everyone's homework, too?

A harsh assessment. You bet. But no harsher than the failures of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

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