Pittsburgh schools' 'progress': Sloppy practices
Real progress in financially strapped Pittsburgh Public Schools remains elusive — and harder to gauge than it should be, because of sloppy district practices.
Watchdog group A+ Schools' “2012 Report to the Community” says Pittsburgh Public Schools' 2011-12 average attendance was 94.4 percent in elementary schools and declined as grade levels rose, amounting to just 85.6 percent in high schools. And the high schools' average 2011 graduation rate was a disturbingly low 68.5 percent, suggesting far too many dropouts.
Carey A. Harris, A+ executive director, says the district's generally headed in the right direction, even though she can't say outcomes have changed for the better. But she does say district practices have — and cites actually tracking attendance as an example.
Also, according to Ms. Harris, some city schools not that long ago were neither taking attendance nor tracking students to identify those whose individual grades and attendance put them at risk for not graduating.
Harris says those shortcomings have been rectified. But with attendance and graduation data from prior years reflecting those sloppy practices, whatever baseline is used to measure progress inevitably is muddled.
And that means claims of real Pittsburgh Public Schools progress — whether made by the district, by groups such as A+, or by candidates in this spring's school board races — should be taken with extra grains of salt by city voters.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Death on the range: A fatal lapse
- Saturday essay: Mother’s message
- Police vests & big hearts
- Greensburg Laurels & Lances
- Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances
- Public records: Updates needed
- Alle-Kiski Tuesday takes
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances