Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Report: Many Lack Access to 'Opportunity Schools' Link of Poverty, Low Achievement Cited

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Report: Many Lack Access to 'Opportunity Schools' Link of Poverty, Low Achievement Cited

Article excerpt

Only 6 percent of students attending high-poverty schools in Allegheny County are going to schools that are breaking the link between poverty and low achievement.

That's the conclusion of a report issued today by PennCAN - the Pennsylvania Campaign for Achievement Now - which is part of a national network, 50CAN, which advocates for high-performing charter and other public schools. The report was funded by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The organization singled out six public schools as "opportunity schools," which had high poverty and met or exceeded proficiency standards on state tests in 2013 and 2014. The schools were selected from a list of 102 where at least 60 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged.

In the case of elementary and middle schools, students met or exceeded the overall state proficiency rates on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests for math and reading in more than half of the grades tested in both years. For high schools, the results of the Keystone Exams were used, with students overall meeting or exceeding overall state proficiency rates in Algebra 1 and literature in both years.

Three of the six are charter schools: Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School in East Liberty, Propel East in Turtle Creek and Propel McKeesport.

Two others are operated by Pittsburgh Public Schools: Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy 6-12, a magnet school known as Sci- Tech in Oakland, and Obama 6-12, an international studies magnet in East Liberty.

One, Verner Elementary in the Riverview School District, is a traditional public school.

Propel East, Urban League and Verner were honored for their elementary grade levels, Propel McKeesport for its middle grades, Sci-Tech for middle and high school grades, and Obama for high school grades.

While PennCAN counts 44,940 students in high poverty schools, only 2,622 attend the opportunity schools.

There are many ways to measure school performance. The state Department of Education uses a School Performance Profile score for each public school. Even with their success, none of the school performance scores of the PennCAN's opportunity schools fall into the top 25 percent of scores in the state. …

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