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On Halloween, Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools, announced that he's attempting again to close Schenley High School and move its students out of Oakland into existing Middle School buildings in East Liberty and the Hill District
 
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01-14-2008 2nd School Board Workshop to discuss Schenley

 
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 11:20 am    Post subject: 01-14-2008 2nd School Board Workshop to discuss Schenley Reply with quote

E-portfolios could keep city pupils on 'Promise' path
Monday, January 14, 2008
By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Public Schools one day may start "e-portfolios" of grades and attendance data for sixth-graders to make sure they're on track for college and the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program.

District officials outlined the proposal yesterday during a five-hour school board workshop on improving high schools, an effort they said must begin with better academic preparation in the middle grades, if not earlier.

The workshop was intended to give board members an extended opportunity to ask questions about the proposed closing of Pittsburgh Schenley High School and other high school initiatives. But it ended too soon for member Randall Taylor, who suggested that the most controversial part of the agenda -- issues involving Schenley and new schools configured for grades six through 12 -- was deliberately left for last.

At 7 p.m., the scheduled quitting time, Education Committee Chairman Thomas Sumpter suggested cutting short the meeting even though board members had not had an opportunity to ask questions about Schenley and the new schools. Mr. Sumpter proposed reconvening the meeting within two weeks, a suggestion that received support from a majority of board members.

"Shame, shame, shame," said Mr. Taylor, who argued with Mr. Sumpter and board President Bill Isler.

"You have an obligation to stay here and to ask questions and to represent the people who elected you," Mr. Taylor said.

"Reconvening is not a crime," Mr. Sumpter said.

The e-portfolios would track students' grades, attendance rates, test scores, extracurricular activities and personal learning plans, to be called Promise Readiness Plans, through the middle grades and high school.

The district wants to summon each sixth-grader's parents to a meeting to discuss career and college plans and the course work, including remedial or advanced work, that would form the backbone of the readiness plans. The plans would be revised when each student is in eighth and 10th grades.

Based on the e-portfolios and readiness plans, students might be encouraged to pursue studies in fields such as the arts or health sciences or be nudged toward a university-preparation or single-gender school. Derrick Lopez, chief of high school reform, said the district is considering single-gender schools, which some districts believe promote better behavior and learning.

The Pittsburgh Promise has become a key part of Superintendent Mark Roosevelt's plan for improving high schools. It's designed to give up to $20,000 in tuition aid to each eligible city high school graduate in the classes of 2008 through 2011 and up to $40,000 per eligible graduate beginning in 2012.

But officials have said money isn't enough. They also want to make sure city graduates have the knowledge and study skills to succeed in college.

Joe Smydo can be reached at jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548
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