Pittsburgh Public Schools Releases Preliminary 2012 PSSA Information
Sees First Dip in Overall Student Performance in Five Years
PITTSBURGH August 10, 2012 – Preliminary results from the 2012 Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) end a challenging school year in the Pittsburgh Public Schools due to school closures and workforce reductions. With outcomes mirroring those across the State, the District is seeing its first dip in student performance on the PSSA since the implementation of its Excellence for All reform agenda in 2006. The District’s pattern of improvement has been consistent over time despite this year’s disappointing decrease in student performance. The District’s academic performance in 2012 as compared to two years ago has remained at the same level in Mathematics and has increased by two percentage points in Reading for students scoring proficient or advanced on the PSSA in all grades combined. (Please see the chart below.)
|*PSSA only; excludes PSSA-M.|
“We are extremely disappointed ad puzzled by these results since the reforms we have put in place have shown promising results for our students over the past several years,” said Superintendent Linda Lane. “After making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) last year, for the second time in three years, the District is committed to understanding this year’s data in order to get back on our positive trajectory.”
Dr. Lane added, “We know that the most important school-based factor for increasing student achievement is the effectiveness of our teachers,and we are more committed than ever to accelerating our teacher improvement efforts so that every student will have an effective teacher in every classroom, every day.”
In considering factors that were different and may have influenced this year’s outcomes, the Superintendent is considering the impact of the following:
- Budget reductions that diverted the Academic Team’s time and effort from school management to the development of a new, more cost effective educational delivery model;
- Staff uncertainty as a result of looming furloughs that were anticipated at an unprecedented level in the District’s 100 year history;
- The lack of diagnostic data as a result of the State’s elimination of Educational Assistance Program monies that the District used to provide 4Sight assessments; and
- Less than optimal testing conditions for students due to an overabundance of caution by school staff as a result of the additional aggressive security measures required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for all districts.
2012 District-Level PSSA Results
The PSSA measures individual student performance and determines the level to which school programs enable students to reach Pennsylvania proficiency standards in Reading and Mathematics.
PSSA Mathematics results decreased slightly from 66.2% in 2011 to 62.4% in 2012 for the number of students scoring proficient or advanced. The District saw continued growth in 8th grade Mathematics scores with 66.7% of 8th graders scoring proficient or advanced, which is an increase of 2.6 percentage points from 2011.
Other 2012 Mathematics proficiency results include:
- 3rd grade student performance declined 7.6 points to 66.1% from 73.7% in 2011.
- 4th grade student performance declined 9.8 points to 67.8% from 77.6% in 2011.
- 5th grade student performance declined 5.1 points to 61.0% from 66.1% in 2011.
- 6th grade student performance declined 0.8 points to 64% from 64.8% in 2011.
- 7th grade student performance declined 4.0 points to 65.6% from 69.6% in 2011.
- 11th grade student performance declined 1.7 points to 43% from 44.7% in 2011.
While the overall percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in Reading decreased from 60.8% in 2011 to 58.8% in 2012, performance was flat or increased modestly in grade 6 (up 0.4 percentage points to 52.1%), grade 8 (up 1.6 percentage points to 73.4%) and grade 11 (up 0.1 percentage points to 56.3%).
Other 2012 Reading proficiency results include:
- 3rd grade student performance declined 5.0 points to 58.3% from 63.3% in 2011.
- 4th grade student performance declined 5.7 points to 55.6% from 61.3% in 2011.
- 5th grade student performance declined 3.6 points to 51.9 from 55.5% in 2011.
- 7th grade student performance declined 0.3 points to 64.4% to 64.7% in 2011.
Like the overall District results, African-American students scored slightly lower in 2012 than in 2011. The percent of African-American students scoring proficient or advanced in Mathematics decreased from 55.3% in 2011 to 51.0% in 2012. The percent of African-American students scoring proficient or advanced in Reading decreased from 49.1% in 2011 to 47% in 2012. Also mirroring the District’s results as compared to two years ago, African-American students scoring proficient or advanced are at the same level this year in Mathematics and are up two percentage points in Reading.
2012 AYP Status
“While we are committed to having every school make AYP every year, it is not alarming that we are seeing fewer schools attaining this goal as the targets accelerate dramatically each year from 2011-2014,” said Lane. (Please see chart that follows.)
Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a district’s Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status is determined by student performance, test participation, student attendance and graduation rate.
The State has yet to release the Academic Achievement Report which will identify the District’s official AYP Status. However, based on preliminary data, the District predicts that it will not make AYP for 2012 and its status will change from Making Progress to Corrective Action II. While the District met its attendance and test participation targets, preliminary data indicates that it did not meet performance or graduation targets. According to preliminary results, seven Pittsburgh Public Schools made AYP in 2012. (A complete listing of school AYP results is attached). 2012 AYP Report 1 2012 AYP Report 2
According to NCLB, the District must offer students in a school in School Improvement the choice to transfer to another District school that is not in School Improvement. This year 15 schools were placed in School Improvement. Parents and families at these schools will receive information this week regarding school choice options.
Free Tutoring Services
Extra academic support is available for students through the Supplemental Educational Services (SES), a free tutoring program for students who qualify for free or reduced priced lunch and attend the following schools: Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, Pittsburgh Allegheny 6-8, Pittsburgh Arsenal 6-8, Pittsburgh Brashear High School, Pittsburgh Carrick High School, Pittsburgh King K-8, Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, Pittsburgh Perry High School and Pittsburgh South Hills 6-8. The SES program will not be available to families who transfer to a new school under School Choice. Interested parents/families should contact Tamiya Larkin at (412) 622-3727 for more information.
The Superintendent also noted that there will be additional student supports in place for the coming school year. A very important new teacher leader role will be in place at 40 schools called Instructional Teacher Leader 2 (ITL2). This year 65 ITL2s will be empowered to work with their peers to improve instructional practices, with a focus on literacy and math instruction, through the use of targeted, research-based strategies. Additionally, the District will be providing eight new specialists and a coordinator to support teachers in their work with students as a result of the District winning a Keystone Literacy Grant of approximately $2 million.
The District recognizes the importance of looking at every measure of performance so that every child is on the Pathway to the Promise. PSSA and AYP results are important measures of how students and schools are attaining against state standards for proficiency levels. It will be equally important to look at other measures that show how students and schools are not just attaining, but more importantly, growing in terms of proficiency levels. As the District continues to refine its strategies for accelerating student achievement and eliminating racial disparities, multiple measures help to provide a more comprehensive picture of academic progress. The District expects to report on the multiple measures of academic performance that it now has before the end of this year.