Pittsburgh School Woes Continue

Layoffs, budget problems, dropping enrollment and now a decline in achievement scores. It seems Pittsburgh City schools cannot catch a break. Even with expenditures above $20,000 per pupil and a scholarship program that promises every graduate with a minimal grade average thousands of dollars to attend college, the District simply cannot move the dial on 11th grade achievement as measured by SAT scores or PSSA results. Hence the graduation rate is stuck and the numbers of school age children in the City continues its decades long slide.

Now comes news that in the 2011-2012 school year, District PSSA scores fell with only 8th graders making any progress. And as we have written about before, there is something peculiar about 8th grade testing, especially in math.

As a result of the drop in PSSA scores and failure to improve graduation rates, Pittsburgh schools failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress criteria as set out in the No Child Left Behind program with whatever stigma that implies. The big problem for Pittsburgh schools is the inability to move the scores for 11th graders at most of the City’s schools. The improvement at lower grades is nice but unavailing if 11th graders are unable to perform at anything like expected levels. No wonder the exodus of high school age children is so great.