• Student Feedback

    At each engagement session, participants were placed in groups of 5 to 10 people and received a handout with a draft abstract of each of the five areas: Early Childhood Education, Gifted Education, Aligned Instructional Systems, New Teacher Induction, Job-Embedded Professional Development. The draft abstract statements were read out loud and each participant had the opportunity to provide their feedback for each of the five areas by answering three questions.     

    • What resonated with you?  
    • What wonderings do you have?  
    • What is missing?  

    The summary below reflects the feedback of the SOD presentation on October 16, 2018 with high school students. The page is organized by topic with the feedback received from the various stakeholders pertaining to each question. The numbers in parenthesis reflect the number of times the same type of feedback was received. The feedback received will support the development of action plans to enhance existing efforts or create new initiatives in each of the five areas listed below. 

    For best viewing results, we recommend screens larger than 720px (iPad, tablets, laptops, desktops). 

Early Childhood Education: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is committed to providing students birth through 8 years of age with the social-emotional and academic foundational skills that are necessary for success throughout their educational career and life. We recognize that we can't do this work alone and will need committed community partners that can actively support our birth to age 8 efforts and support families within the school and broader Pittsburgh community.

For PPS to succeed, we will:

  • Intentionally design learning experiencesWhat resonated with you:
    "Important to teach students things other than academics when they are younger."
    to ensure that all children are educated to high level academic and social emotional standards within a joyful, warm and nurturing environment.
  • Ensure
    social-emotional skillsWhat resonated with you:
    "Social-emotional skills development." (2)
    "Self-awareness and self-management; good habits for the long-term."
    development includes: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, relationship skills and social awareness.
  • Ensure academic skills include: literacy skills, math skills, scientific thinking, social studies, physical development and the arts.
  • Embrace developmentally appropriate practices, play-based learning, and standards-aligned curricula that encourages each child’s natural eagerness to learn.
  • Adopt teaching practices that are grounded in research on how children develop and learn, and what is known about effective early childhood education.
  • Expect positive, responsive
    teacher-child relationshipsWhat resonated with you:
    "Like emphasis on unique style of living and learning."
    "Like expecting positive teacher child relationships."
    "Chidren do learn in different ways."
    in which each child’s unique style of living and learning is respected and fostered.
  • Train teachers to
    meet children where they are,What resonated with you:
    "Train teachers to meet children where they are." (4)
    "Training teachers is very important to ensure this is realized."
    "Important not to talk down to kids, but rather meet them where they are at."
    "Be careful about how you treat them (students) because they are the future."
    both as individuals and as part of a group.
  • Help each child meet challenging and achievable learning goals.
  • Partner with parentsWhat resonated with you:
    "Parent support is huge with elementary/Pre-K."
    "Good for working parents having daycare in the schools."
    in support of their child’s health, development and education.
  • Engage community organizations whom are aligned to our beliefs and ensure we have strong partnership to support schools and families.

Early Childhood Education: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Curriculum
"Will the District embrace Developmentally Appropriate Practices (DAP)?"
"How are we going to implement Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?" (2)
"Are there any extra resources directed to SEL?"
"Is there language support in early childhood? How is support being identified? It doesn’t currently exist."
"Are we focusing on expression?"
"Are we asking teachers to focus on classroom goals or to consider individual learning needs to meet the different levels of students?"
"Do you consider the environment or just the test/assessment when determining instructional level?"
"What research do we have on EC?"

Parent Engagement
"How are we working to improve communication with parents? Communication is key."
"How will you approach a family that is not willing to accept feedback?"
"Culturally competent instruction and training is necessary."
"What if the family is not supportive or does not care? Then what?"
"What if the family does not have expectations for high achievement?"
"Can childcare be provided free?"

Equity
"What will be done about racial segregation (too much)?"
"Racial segregation in schools starts early. Bias starts on the first day of school (Reality vs Perception)."
"Not all teachers have high expectations. What can be done?"
"Teachers expect more out of certain students than others."
"What about integrating our schools?"
"How are we training teachers to meet students where they are?"

Budget
"Financially, can the District afford to take care of kids from Birth to 8?"

Terminology
"What is play-based learning?"

 

Early Childhood Education: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure / Curriculum
"Self-Efficacy."
"Teaching of self-care and self-love: at a young age, start teaching students how to be themselves.”
"Teaching kids that it is okay to make mistakes: support this growth."
"Teaching children how to be accountable for their actions."
"The Arts."

Student Engagement
"Student Input: Where does it reference whether students “enjoy” what they are doing?"
"Option for older students to mentor EC students."
"Option for older students to read to EC students."
"Talking to children: Getting input from younger students in the process."

Family Engagement/Recruiting
"No direct feedback from families."

Cultural Awareness / Responsiveness
"How we focus on children of color to learn."
"How we address cultural needs."
"How students are disciplined."

Equity / Diversity
"Presence of African-American teachers."

Research
"Reference of the research we are using to inform these decisions."

Gifted Education: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to providing
all students What resonated with you:
"PPS is committed to providing ALL students the opportunity to demonstrate their gifts and talents."
the opportunity to demonstrate their gifts and talents through enriched and accelerated learning. We will ensure that high-quality
culturally responsiveWhat resonated with you:
"Culturally relevant instruction..."
instruction is embedded in our core curriculum. We will
equip teachers with the necessary tools to identifyWhat resonated with you:
"...equip teachers with tools to identify all learner's gifts and talents..."
all learners' gifts and talents and ensure they can effectively identify gifted and talented learners. We expect all teachers to
develop high yield instructional strategiesWhat resonated with you:
"G&T program offers more ways to learn. More ways to develop personally."
"There isn't only one style of teaching."
to meet the learning needs of students identified as gifted and talented. We will ensure this level of instruction is present every day, in every school, to offer a wide range of ways a child can develop personally. Students, staff, and parents will understand the process of
gifted and talented identification.What resonated with you:
"The name gifted and talented can be a negative term (promotes labeling)."
"...I think the name implies superiority?"
"Change the name from gifted... makes other children feel stupid."
"[The name gifted] already sets up that gifted are better than you."
"We need a mindset change."

We expect gifted and talented students to:

  • Develop academically, socially, and emotionally.
  • Recognize the role they play in contributing to their school, community, and global society.

Gifted Education: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Student Selection
"How do you find the gifted kids?"
"How do you know who is gifted and what if you miss a kid?"
"Who decides who is gifted and who isn’t?"
"What personality and mindset do you need to be successful in gifted?"
"Can we focus more on academics and not behaviors when we consider who should be recommended? Evaluator should not know the name of the kids getting screened."
"Name should be a student ID code to eliminate bias."
"How is the location for gifted testing selected?"

Equity
“Can we change the name because I think that the name implies superiority?”
"Can we do onsite gifted programs at all schools?"
"Can we start in-school gifted in all elementary schools?"
"Why is this not offered District wide?"
"For 54% African American District, we don’t have adequate representation."
"'Gifted' students automatically get into Center for Advanced Studies (CAS); Pooled from Gifted so no diversity. Students who are not “gifted” have to go through a selection process. Does this prepare children for real life?" (Comparison to a job interview.)

Student Morale
"How do kids feel that are left behind?"
“Not getting into gifted makes you feel stupid.”
"How much does the test change?"
"What happens when students are in gifted, but are already challenged enough?"

Opportunities
"Are there opportunities for “non-gifted” students?"
"Are there other enrichment programs or solutions at home schools?"
"The number of kids who are left behind at school should be cared for too, and not left out."
"How long is the CAS program going to last?"
"Can we change the curriculum so everyone gets gifted?"

Define / Terminology
What is Gifted and Talented?

Gifted Education: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
Develop student mindset: “We’re allowing students to settle for less.”
"Student choice to “opt out of the gifted project.”
“Wish gifted was a choice; it is too much work.”
“Do not like gifted project; just another extra thing.”
“We shouldn’t have “gifted.”
"Is it necessary?" (2)
“Gifted program is not helpful.”
“(Assessment) Does it really show how intelligent you are?”

Equity / Opportunities
“It should be an expectation for all students.”
“We should bring everyone up to the same levels. The separation the adults create between PSP and Gifted is an issue.”
”Gifted should not be the only way you get a quality education.”
”Recognizing all gifts.”
”Provide more electives to meet various gifted needs.”
“We need more communication about what’s available and what we have.”
”Taking the gifted test more than once is not an option”
”Counselors; they don’t hear/listen to students request regarding CAS and AP classes.”
”Less focus on Gifted students, and focus more on low achieving students."

Outreach and Recruiting
No Racial Diversity: "There aren’t many African-American students in G&T.”
”Teacher’s don’t always “pick” students to help them get in.”
”Students aren’t being identified due to assumptions.”
”Students should be pushed into opportunities. One whole day for the entire District. Different learning environment.”
”If you are gifted and talented the teacher should help you embrace it.”
”More information needs to be given to families.”
”Student new to PPS did not know of taking test to get into G&T.”
”No effort or expectation for establishing welcoming environment before testing.”

Student Morale
”Current structure of G&T students leaving damages confidence of students not selected. Student shares story of feeling “stupid” in the 6th grade, because other students left (like they were the smarter than him).
“Why do we want kids to be left out?”
”Teachers talk to and treat CAS students differently. The CAS kids aren’t at that level.”
“The gifted education system makes the other students seem like they are not gifted. Everyone should be on the same level.  I used to go to gifted center and when I came back the students would say oh there are the smart kids. I thought they were smart too.” 

Aligned Instructional System: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) is committed to ensuring that all students entering and exiting any PPS school will leave with the
same quality education regardless of zip code. What resonated with you:
"… all students… will leave with the same quality education regardless of zip code."
"This will assist with ensuring opportunities for all children."
"If you look at our test scores by school, you can see we’re not reaching the “regardless of zip code” goal."
"Budget: this is why it won't work."
Equitable learningWhat resonated with you:
"If we are all in the same District, why don’t we all have the same learning options?"
"Certain buildings have certain luxuries that other schools don’t."
"Need for assisting schools that need it based on student achievement."
"Better distribution of funding."
"Better distribution of teachers."
"Magnet schools are broadcasted, not neighborhood schools."
for all students will occur and serve as the foundation for classroom instruction, occur with the implementation of culturally responsive curriculum, instructional frameworks, and assessments that articulate a sequence of learning aligned to grade-level expectations developed by district staff and teachers. 


PPS will provide curricular resources and support for all staff to foster a mindset of continuous learning and high expectations. We will ensure a variety of ongoing assessments to inform daily instructional decisions that appropriately stretch students beyond their current level of performance. Students in PreK-12 will engage in learning experiences that reflect high expectations, and enable them to transfer knowledge and skills to new situations, both locally and globally. Students will learn how to apply academic grit to transcend internal and external obstacles in order to reach their highest potential. Clear gateways will be established to ensure students are aware of their academic options and can embody the academic and socio-emotional intelligence to become college, career and life-ready.

Aligned Instructional System: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Equity
"Is this saying that students get treated differently based on where they go to school? How are we going to ensure that this doesn’t happen?"
"How can we make sure that students are aware of all academic options, so they don’t have to go to a specific “track”? Magnet, AP, etc."
"Why is there a difference in Magnet vs. Neighborhood schools?"
"Why do we not have windows?"
"Can we get textbooks that are not falling apart?"
"Are we placing the best teachers in high performing schools?"

Budget
"Why do we fund schools based on property taxes?"
"How will we get the budget to make sure that this happens when budgets are site-based? Allocations by schools? Why do some schools get more money?"
"Why does CAPA get a lot of grants? Who is writing the grants?"
"Why are monies used differently by schools?"
"Do all schools have the same funding as Magnet schools?"
"How do Charter schools get funding?"

Expectations

"Are high expectations the same for every teacher and every student (i.e., Student with IEP and students with AP course loads)?"
"What is the accountability on teachers? Can there be unscheduled observations?"
"What are the Technology expectations?"

Curriculum
"What Instructional frameworks are being used?"
"Consistency with rigor of courses?"
"How are graduation requirements decided?"

Define / Terminology
"What does Culturally Relevant curriculum mean?"


Aligned Instructional System: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Teacher Selection/Retention
"No plan to retain teachers."
"No plan to fill voids: substitute teachers come and go."

Teacher Placement
"Other schools need high quality teachers."
“If teachers have a choice, they will choose to go to better schools."

Teacher Diversity
“I would feel more comfortable with a teacher of color teaching African American courses (i.e. AA Lit)."

Curriculum
"Life Skills: Taught to the test and not to succeed and survive.”
"Preparation for college, career and life skills (i.e., taxes, paying bills, raising children)."
“We begin too early with standardized testing.”

Culturally Relevant / Responsive
"In World History, we didn’t learn anything about African culture or how African cultures have influenced American cultures."
"What about Current History?"
"Can more history classes be added?"

Equity
"Establishing a baseline to ensure all students are learning the same thing."
"Culture is not considered in each school."
"Offer identical classes at each school."
"You should not have to go to a magnet school to have access to technology."
"Feeder schools and magnet schools are totally different."

Confidence
"The Education gap is wide."
"Some schools do not have anything; no kids with high grades."
"Some schools do not have any support."
"Aligned instruction is not going to happen."

Student Input/Accountability
"Students should be able to choose the types of courses that will be at their school. Being able to take classes that align with your career."
"How are we going to let students take home laptops? The majority of students mess it up for those who would use them correctly."

Special Education
"What will happen for kids with learning disabilities? How will they be supported?"

 

New Teacher Induction: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is committed to ensuring all incoming teachers receive effective
mentoring, guidance, and supportWhat resonated with you:
"Mentor support to new teachers."
through a comprehensive New Teacher Induction (NTI) process. NTI will establish a foundation for new teachers to benefit from and contribute to a culture of continuous improvement. NTI will consist of both individualized and collaborative learning experiences for teachers, preparing them to best meet the diverse academic and social-emotional needs of their students. The NTI process will support the District in developing and retaining teachers who are committed to ongoing growth, research, and development to ensure that every student in every school experiences high quality instruction every day.


We expect new teachers to:
  • Believe that students of every race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, and ability can excel and make continuous academic progress.
  • Understand and implement research-based and culturally-responsive instructional practices so that all students can learn. 
  • Have a dedicated, well-prepared, and qualified
    mentor.What resonated with you:
    "Have a dedicated and well prepared mentor."
  • Have a shared responsibility in their professional learning.
  • Experiences professional learning that models effective learning experiences for students.
  • Engage in data-driven and data-informed professional learning experiences.
  • Have site-based and district-based supports that complement one another.
  • Receive the resources to be successful in their roles.
  • Become experienced and effective teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

New Teacher Induction: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Teacher Training
"What training will teachers receive? Sensitivity training? Cultural training?"
"How to prepare teachers to understand/relate to students? Most teachers don’t know how to handle black students.”
"A lot of teachers do not experience our neighborhoods and struggles.”
"They only have one way of thinking.”
"How to communicate with students/adolescents?"
"Teachers struggle to communicate and work with students."
"Teachers should have an experience as a student."
"How can teachers learn how to 'man up'?"
"Can we add racial bias and implicit bias to this training? Micro-aggressions?"
"Current teacher’s need racial sensitivity training - This should be done yearly"

Teacher Placement
"How are teacher’s placed for schools?"
"What is the process?"
"Why are new teachers sent to low performing schools?" (2)
"Why do all new teacher’s get stuck at harder schools?"
"How does a teacher that changes every two years help make academic gains?"

Substitutes
"Is this program available to substitutes?"
"Why don’t substitutes try to teach?"

Program Structure
"Who is in charge of NTI?"
"Why are we not paying attention to the current teaching staff?"
"How can we expand this to current teachers?"
"Why can’t PD focus on mental health?"

Diversity
"How do we ensure we hire a diverse teacher staff?"

Assessment
"How are teachers evaluated? There are some teacher’s that should not be teaching.”

New Teacher Induction: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Teacher Engagement
"Dedicated teachers."
"Teacher-Student relationships. Student’s see new teachers and they take advantage."
"Teacher-Community relationship. This would help teacher’s know students and families."
"Teacher input on the process of teacher induction."

Mentors
"The dedicated and well-prepared mentor."
"Older mentors."
"Student mentors."

Mental Health
"No plan for students with mental health issues. A group of people coming in every semester to assess the mental health of students."

Job Embedded PD: What Resonated With You?

To best capture how much a word or phrase resonated with each audience, the words have been enlarged to show a greater number of people resonated with the word or phrase. In addition, for items that resonated but not as much, the words or phrases are in a different color. Hover over the larger words to view additional comments.

In Pittsburgh Public Schools, job-embedded professional development will be an individual and collaborative continuous learning process of inquiry, reflection, and action that occurs during the work day with the goal of staff improving student outcomes. Job-embedded professional development will equip staff with data analysis, academic content, teaching and learning theory, social/emotional development, research and evidenced based teaching, learning theory, and cultural competency skills to ensure students are college, career and life ready.

We expect teachers to:

  • Understand that professional learning is a professional responsibility.
  • Feel empoweredWhat resonated with you:
    "I feel like there are some teachers who have been teaching at the same job for so long that they lose their ability to make kids excited about it."
    to improve their professional practice.
  • Be engaged in job-embedded professional learning daily.
  • Engage in data informed decision making.
  • Have a deep knowledge of the content they teach and how to teach that content to a range of students.
  • Work collaboratively What resonated with you:
    "Like the idea of having flexibility and creativity."
    "(Teachers) don't update or keep things relevant to us. This makes us shut down because there is nothing for us to do."
    to develop and implement lessons that are responsive to the educational needs of their students.
  • Contribute to the improvement of the practice of all members of the school community.
  • Be researchers.
  • Experience high-quality
    coaching and mentoring.What resonated with you:
    "They want teachers to feel empowered to improve their practice."
    "Push teachers to learn more."
  • Build their leadershipWhat resonated with you:
    "Build leadership capacity through coaching..."
    "This will help teachers grow."
    capacity through the coaching and mentoring of other teachers.

Job Embedded PD: What Wonderings Do You Have?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Program Structure
"Is Job Embedded PD for all teachers? How does that work?"
"Who supervises professional development? How do they know how to train teachers on how to do their job?"
"Is it a bad idea for students be involved?"
"What do the Principals do for PD?"
"Is the PSP program college based?"
"Will the Tripod survey be improved? No one takes them seriously."
"Do teacher evaluations affect pay?"
"Why are there incentives for teachers to teach at low performing schools?"

Teacher Support
"Can we focus on senior teachers and the support they receive?"
"What type of restorative practices trainings are offered to the teachers?"

Define
"What do they mean by 'Be researchers'?"
"How does the district define 'life ready'?"


 

Job Embedded PD: What is Missing?

Please see below for a full list of comments each audience noted. Similar topics are grouped together in bolded categories.

Curriculum
"Cultural relevant practices."
"Teacher's knowing the curriculum before the student's do."

Training
"Gender identity training."
"Training on stress."