Monday, August 01, 2005

Public School Reports

Education Law Center/PA School Reform Network is releasing two new reports containing data analysis and policy recommendations addressing achievement and opportunity gaps in Pennsylvania public schools. The reports and a related toolkit allow parents and community leaders to compare the status of their school district to other districts and to state averages. All of this will be a kick-off for our "Closing the Gaps Campaign" to intensify our school improvement efforts during the 2005-2006 school year.

A three page summary is attached to this email for your review. You may click on our web site at and read the reports and toolkit in their entirety. On the left side of the home page, click on "Reports and Data about Achievement and Opportunity Gaps." When reviewing the reports, you may especially be interested in Appendices E and F of the Achievement Gap Report which show where your district ranks among others statewide. In this location you will also find a listing of districts that have made significant progress in closing achievement gaps among subgroups of students.

Reactions welcomed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Report: City school students not keeping up, but doing better
Tuesday, August 02, 2005

By Tim Grant, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When it comes to reading and doing math at grade level in this state, students in Pittsburgh are ranked near the bottom, according to a study released yesterday.

Researchers at the Education Law Center are hoping their report on Pennsylvania's achievement and opportunity gap will make enough parents angry enough to storm the gates of their local schools and then march their way to Harrisburg, demanding more funding and better results.

"This report will be controversial in some communities," said Baruch Kintisch, a staff attorney for the Education Law Center in Philadelphia. "Parents are going to wonder why their districts are ranked so low."

Pittsburgh Public Schools is ranked 480 out of 500 school districts the center tracked between 2002 and 2004 for information on student achievement, school funding and quality of education.

The study shows 56 percent of students in the Pittsburgh district scored below their grade levels on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, or PSSA, examinations. The state average is 39.8 percent.

The Duquesne City School District ranked lowest in the study, with 85.3 percent of its students performing below grade level. Chester County has both of the two top-ranked schools in the state.

While Pittsburgh students had less than stellar results on their most recent tests, there is some good news.

Three years ago, Pittsburgh's PSSA scores were even lower than they are now. The study shows Pittsburgh students are actually improving faster than students in most school districts statewide.

PSSA scores for African-American students in Pittsburgh, although still lower than average, have increased nearly 37 percent over the past three years, the study shows.

"We need to acknowledge there are alarming disparities," said Sandy Zelno, assistant director of the Pennsylvania School Reform Network.

"But it's not a school problem. It's a community problem because schools are a reflection of our communities."

In this report, the researchers also looked at 58 school districts that were meeting annual yearly progress standards set by the federal No Child Left Behind law to see how much they were spending on education.

"The majority of schools are spending much less than the most successful school districts," Kintisch said, adding that he hopes parents will look at the data in this report and ask themselves how they can make a difference.

"Parents need to roll up their sleeves. Parents need to press for changes in school policy at the state and local level and really put pressure on state officials to put plans in place that will really close the gap."

(Tim Grant can be reached at or 412-263-1591.)