Strong principal leadership in some schools creating significant gains for all students, but enrollment declines pose a significant challenge for Pittsburgh Public Schools

PITTSBURGH, PA – Nov. 13, 2017 – Pittsburgh’s public schools are working for some, but for too many, gaps in opportunity and achievement remain. According to A+ Schools, Pittsburgh’s community advocate for equity and excellence in public education, which today released its Annual Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh, changes are still needed to make significant enhancements in Pittsburgh schools over all, especially in light of significant declines in student enrollment over the past four years.

“We believe Pittsburgh’s public schools, both district and charter, are capable of providing an excellent education for all students regardless of a student’s race or socioeconomic status,” said James Fogarty, Executive Director of A+ Schools. “Yet as of today, there are really two Pittsburghs when it comes to public education. One where student achievement or growth is high, where strong principal leaders are working together with educators in their buildings to get unexpected results, and where suspensions are low with more welcoming school environments. And there is the other, where predictable and intractable gaps in student achievement between white students at the district and students of color at the school are high, where teacher and principal turnover is more frequent, and where chronic absenteeism and suspensions mean students are in school less.”

Some positive highlights in the data include:

  • The district’s graduation rate increased by 10% in one year (70% overall last year compared to 80% this year).
  • Five PPS schools and two charter schools had gaps in student achievement of less than ten points across multiple grades on some standardized tests.
  • 66% of the district’s seniors overall earned grade point averages that qualified them for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship (2.5 GPA or higher).
  • 68% of district schools met or exceeded state growth standards in English Language Arts.
  • 46% of district schools met or exceeded state growth standards in Mathematics.
  • Third grade reading scores increased by 8 points overall, and by 12 points for African-American students.

This article is sponsored by A+ Schools. A+ Schools is the community advocate and leader for educational equity and excellence in Pittsburgh’s Public Schools. It serves as a community force advancing the highest educational achievement and character development for every public school student. Its core purpose and focus of work is to increase educational equity in Pittsburgh schools. For more information, contact A+ Schools at 412-697-1298 or visit: www.aplusschools.org.