by Lauren Daley
A+ Schools, an education watchdog and advocacy group, today released a comprehensive annual report that shows the district declined in almost every area from student achievement to closing the achievement gap in 2011-12.
The report, the organization's Eighth Annual Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh, is available here.
“It was a rough year,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools, in a press release. “While the trends are consistent with what happened across the state last year, that is no consolation. Our schools, our kids, continue to need our help. We have much work to do to ensure our schools work for every child.”
Harris said it was the first time in the organization's history of producing the report they had to deliver such bad news.
Among the findings Harris highlighted:
• A worsening gap between black and white student achievement. In reading, according to A+, the gap increased by 1.3 percentage points to 31.9 percent. In math, the gap increased by 3.6 percentage points to 30.9 percent — the largest in four years.
• Enrollment declined last year by 1,052 students to 24,918.
• The district graduation rate decreased slightly to 68.5 percent.
• Nearly 58 percent of all Pittsburgh seniors earned the 2.5 or higher GPA needed to qualify for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship — a decrease of 1 percentage point.
• The number of black seniors earning a qualifying GPA dropped 4 percentage points to 39 percent, while the number of white students earning a 2.5 or higher GPA remained at 77 percent.
• The number of students enrolled in one or more AP courses increased by 1 percentage point to 15.2 percent.
• Students in grades 3-5 scored lower in reading and math, with 11th-grade math scores remaining static.
Harris noted that there were positive findings: more students scored proficient and advanced for reading in grades 6-8 and 11, compared to four years ago, exceeding state performance. Grades 6-8 also performed well in math.
The report will be mailed directly to city households with children enrolled in the district, and will be available at libraries, city schools or by calling A+ Schools at 412-697-1298. Harris encouraged the community to review it and consider getting involved in programs like A+ Schools' School Works Initiative.