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More on the Notebook/NewsWorks PSSA investigation

By Paul Socolar on Oct 31, 2014 05:05 PM

Notebook contributing editor Dale Mezzacappa will be on WHYY's NewsWorks Tonight, Friday at 6 p.m., discussing the Notebook/NewsWorks investigative report about the Pennsylvania Department of Education's delayed release of the 2014 PSSA results. (Listen to the show live at WHYY.org or by tuning into 90.9 FM. A recorded version will also be available at WHYY.org. )

The article, published Thursday evening, also discussed an across-the-board decline in statewide PSSA scores in reading and math in 2013 that had not previously been reported in the press.

The delayed release of 2014 test results has been a topic of discussion in education circles this fall. Detailed statewide reports have generally been out by the end of September in past years. Last year, though, the state unveiled the new School Performance Profiles, based on multiple measures of performance, on Oct. 4. 

But what prompted the investigation was a discovery last week by the Notebook/NewsWorks reporting team that 2013 PSSA results were not available on a state website that has links to 18 previous years of test-score data. That prompted staff members to ask questions about 2013 PSSA results. They soon found that the statewide trends included in the 2013 "state report card" had never been announced or reported in the press.

From the archives: 'Show me the money'

By the Notebook on Oct 31, 2014 11:20 AM
 

The Notebook was launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication this spring. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

This News Analysis piece is from the Winter 2001-02 print edition:


by Barbara Miner

In September 1990, "Good Morning America" was broadcast from South Pointe Elementary School in Dade County, Fla. The news peg? It was the first day of school at what was to be a new and glorious era in public schools: for-profit management.

Charter and District schools should not be at odds; my family relies on both

By Aja Beech for NewsWorks on Oct 30, 2014 04:52 PM

My education is, in part, a product of the best intentions of the School District of Philadelphia. In the early '90s, the elementary school I attended in my neighborhood, James Russell Lowell in Olney, could no longer accommodate students up to 8th grade, so at the age of 11, I began evaluations to attend a school outside of my neighborhood, something most Philadelphia public school students know about.

Of the hundreds of children having to transfer from Lowell that year, I think there were three or four of us chosen — all white — to attend Masterman magnet school in the Spring Garden neighborhood. Some of them I had never seen in Olney before. Some were from families who had come to live there to practice their religious convictions, my first experience with a kind of urban missionary. Others came from families who could afford to send their children to private schools.

A discussion on making Philly family friendly

By Shannon Nolan on Oct 29, 2014 12:48 PM

Millennials have been responsible for much of Philadelphia’s recent population growth. Tonight, Next City will hold a discussion on how the city can be improved for those already living here, while encouraging others to take up residence in the city.

The panel discussion is called “Making Philadelphia Family Friendly” and it is the first in a three-part series on topics chosen to help enhance Philadelphia’s future. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Moore College of Art & Design auditorium, 1916 Race St. An RSVP is required to attend.

The imbalance of leveling

By Eileen DiFranco on Oct 29, 2014 11:56 AM

By the middle of October in any given school year, students are situated into their routines, snug in their desks. They have finally committed their class schedules to memory. They know what their teachers expect of them. They have begun to know their classmates. Their notebooks are filled with notes.

This year, two weeks beyond the contracted deadline, the School District has used its leveling sledgehammer to collapse classes and smash to smithereens much of what students and teachers have worked so hard to accomplish. The schools become unhinged just as they were settling in. The cost is incalculable.

When leveling occurs, the District must reshuffle schools' staff to match their actual enrollments, and class rosters have to be remade. Children are often assigned to different teachers with different teaching styles or ones who are in a different place in the curriculum. Some subjects are eliminated, and the work done since September is lost.

Expelled for inappropriate cell phone use?

By Payne Schroeder on Oct 29, 2014 09:54 AM

In August, Youth United for Change members stood in protest when the School Reform Commission voted to approve changes to the student code of conduct. They were ultimately escorted from District headquarters for disrupting the meeting.

The group says that the new policy's changes to the severity of punishment for students who engage in the "inappropriate use of electronic devices" could lead to overdisciplining students for minor infractions and could push students out of school.

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