The Pittsburgh Public Schools have made history by making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in two out of the past three years.
Under the leadership of Dr. Barbara Rudiak, assistant superintendent for K-5 Schools, several local schools have led the way. The state benchmarks last year called for at least 72 percent of students to be proficient or advanced in reading and 67 percent of students in mathematics.
Students in grades 3-8 and 11 take the PSSA exam each year and their scores are counted into AYP calculations. During the 2011-2012 school year, the state benchmarks increase to 81 percent proficient or advanced in reading and 78 percent proficient or advanced in mathematics.
Over each of the past 4 years, K-5 schools have developed a “Good News/Urgent Message” as a way to inform parents and the community of their school's performance on the PSSA during the previous year. The schools have analyzed their data and identified areas of strength and areas of concern so that all stakeholders would be up to date with the latest test scores.
Staff from Concord, Grandview, Phillips, Roose-velt and Whittier schools spent time developing these informative messages early this year.
At Pittsburgh Concord, the good news is that 85 percent of students in grades 3-5 are proficient or advanced in mathematics. In addition, 76 percent of students in grade 3 are proficient or advanced in reading.
The urgent message at Concord is their Economically Disadvantaged population did not reach the PSSA target in reading. The goal at Concord for this year is to develop strategies to help ALL children achieve so all subgroups will reach the new proficiency targets in 2011-2012.
Pittsburgh Grandview fourth and fifth grade students exceeded the state benchmark in mathematics. It is also good news to hear many students at Grandview showed growth based on the state growth model. In reading, 70.9 percent of students made at least one year's growth and in mathematics 79.6 percent of students made at least one year's growth.
The urgent message at Grandview is, overall, the school did not meet the state reading benchmark (67 percent proficient or advanced) last year. In order to meet the new benchmark (81 percent proficient or advanced) in 2012, students will need to continue to show more than one year's growth.
At Pittsburgh Phillips, the good news is the school has once again exceeded the state benchmarks for reading and mathematics and is among the highest scoring schools in the district. Phillips is also celebrating the achievement disparity in mathematics between African-American and white students has been eliminated. In reading, the disparity has been reduced.
The school's urgent message is there is still some disparity between African-American students and white students in reading. Strategies to eliminate all achievement disparity are being developed and implemented.
In addition, although last year's mathematics scores would have been high enough to exceed the new state targets, the reading scores would not have been. There is much work to do to ensure all students achieve at high levels so each student is “Promise Ready.”
Highlights at Pittsburgh Roosevelt include making AYP in both reading and mathematics. The school also has shown at least one year's growth in both reading and mathematics using the state growth model.
This year's urgent message is although the school made AYP, it did so using special provisions. Therefore, the school will work toward meeting the targets this year without the use of any special provisions, which will mean making at least 81 percent proficient or advanced in reading and 78 percent proficient or advanced in mathematics.
Pittsburgh Whittier noted 73.2 percent of students overall have met the target in reading and 78 percent have met the target in mathematics. The school reports that their focus on reading comprehension has been making an impact on test results and student performance in all subjects.
Oral reading fluency assessment results in the primary and intermediate grades have shown growth at the school. The improvement focus at Whittier this year is to work harder to meet the higher state targets, engage the entire school community to help, and eliminate poor student attendance as a hindrance to student achievement.
School administrators at Whittier would like to ensure all students read fluently, understand the meanings of words, and comprehend the information they read.