The Pathway to the Promise

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We understand that as parents you want a program for your child that ignites a passion for learning in an environment that is safe and welcoming. We also recognize that each child learns differently. That’s why we are offering a wide range of educational options for families.

At the Pittsburgh Public Schools, we are committed to our vision of Excellence for All. This means preparing all children to achieve academic excellence and strength of character, so that they can pursue their passion and be prepared to receive scholarships through the Pittsburgh Promise. The Pittsburgh Promise is a community gift to help families plan, prepare and pay for education after high school. We are working hard to ensure that every school provides quality, academically rigorous and engaging programs so each student is Promise-Ready.

PositiveTeaching
POSITIVE TEACHING AND LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS—From left: Nina Esposito-Visgitis, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers president; John Tarka, former president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Linda Lane, Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent; and Tim Stevens, chairman of The Black Political Empowerment Project announced a partnership to install learning environment specialists at seven high needs schools Aug. 29.

We have evidence that our collective efforts are working to improve student achievement.

•Pittsburgh Public Schools has been recognized nationally for our achievements. We were ranked 7th in the nation among public school systems in large U.S. cities in the GreatSchools: Best Cities to Live and Learn 2010 report (greatschools.org). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have invested $40 million in us to implement our Empowering Effective Teachers in the Pittsburgh Public Schools Plan. We are one of just four nationwide locations identified as an “intense partnership site.” The U.S. Department of Education has supported our work to empower effective teachers and improve focus on student outcomes with a grant of $39.5 million through the Teacher Incentive Fund.

•Our Students are Performing Better as Measured by Adequate Yearly Progress. We achieved AYP as a district for the second time in the last three years during the 2010-2011 school year. In addition to achieving AYP in 2008-2009 and 2010-2011, we just narrowly missed achieving AYP for the 2010-2011 school year. During 2010-2011, 32 of our schools achieved AYP.

•Scores on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) are on the rise. Pittsburgh Public School Students have improved dramatically on the PSSA. On last year’s exams, the percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in reading increased from 56.6 percent to 60.7 percent (and are up from 48.9 percent in 2004). In the last year, the percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in math increased from 62.4 percent to 66.2 percent (and are up from 39.2 percent in 2004). The disparity Between African-American and White Students narrowed steadily on all 14 State Exams since 2007, while achievement for both groups rose. Although the disparity has narrowed while achievement has increased for both groups, progress must be accelerated. The district has made improving African-American student performance and eliminating the academic disparity between African-American and White students a priority.

Our recent success builds on our heritage of excellence, which can be seen in the many talented students who have attended and graduated from the Pittsburgh Public Schools during the last century. The pioneering spirit of our district’s first Board members can be recalled by virtue of the legendary schools that bear their names. We are proud that our schools instill a sense of pride and purpose in many of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods.

Right now, we find ourselves at an important crossroad. We must continue working together to improve outcomes for our students, while accomplishing this with far fewer resources. We must live within our means in this strained fiscal environment so that we can continue our reform momentum and our record of improving outcomes without raising taxes.

With an eye on equity, we are focusing our resources on instruction and the academic supports that contribute to student achievement. Our approach will result in a long-term reshaping of this district in order to support a competitive model for public education; an approach that anticipates the future and addresses the infrastructure problem by consolidation of facilities, programs and responsibilities.

We have a plan in place. Our goal is still the goal—to get our kids Promise-Ready. Our hope is that we can implement this plan with the least amount of disruption as possible to our students and to our teachers.

If you are already not a part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools family, we encourage you to take a fresh look at the wide range of educational options we have available for your child. These options include excellent neighborhood schools as well as Magnet schools/programs that provide a specific educational model or themed-based program focusing on student’s specific talent or interests. http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/magnet.

By working together, I am confident we can achieve Excellence for All and advance the life prospects for all students.

Sincerely,

Linda S. Lane, EdD

Superintendent of Schools

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