Wednesday, April 23, 2014

From #8 to #11 to #20

According to U.S. News and World Report, we have dropped again. Last year, I posted We have dropped to #11.

Pennsylvania Best High Schools

The U.S. News "best schools" rankings for 2014 have been released. Here are the top 10 in Pennsylvania:

#1 Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School
2825 STATE ST, ERIE, PA 16508
#3 New Hope-Solebury High School
#4 Wyomissing Area Junior/Senior High School
#5 Conestoga High School
200 IRISH RD, BERWYN, PA 19312
#6 Upper St. Clair High School
#7 Unionville High School
#8 Radnor High School
#9 Wissahickon Senior High School
#10 Great Valley High School


#20 Mt. Lebanon High School

Ratings are based on based on student/teacher ratio, how 12th graders performed on their AP tests, and how they performed in math and reading on their state exit exams. Mt. Lebanon has a national rank of 962. Of the top ten high schools in the USA, eight are in the South or Southwest; one is in California, and one is in Michigan. Two of the top ten high schools are charters; in fact #2 in the nation is a charter school in Arizona. In Pennsylvania, Upper St. Clair IMPROVED, going from #7 in 2013 to #6 in the PA ranking.


Anonymous said...

Bet Steinhauer doesn't brag about that one!

Anonymous said...

If MTLSD were in Ohio, it would be state ranked #44.

If MTLSD were in NY, it would be state ranked #82.

If MTLSD were in MA, it would be state ranked #47.

Just a frame of reference as we consider spending more money turfing fields, buying trophy cases and reassuring parents that all of their concerns are being addressed by the superintendent and his administration.

Anonymous said...

How about preparing signs of protest for lawns and SB meetings to expose the fraud and misrepresentation that is and has been taking place. It is absolutely disgraceful and intentional.

There is no hope for intervention by Harrisburg, or elected officials.

Anonymous said...

A standard response from the Admin would be "they're wrong !", and the SB would pass a Resolution to that effect because they're scared to death to question or disagree with the Admin or the unions.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry the district will pay for a survey to say they are number 1. Just don't leak that "certain" students are asked to stay home on test days.... We don't want that outed!

Bob D said...

Your Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia is ranked #1 in Pennsylvania and #52 nationally. It has a 20:1 student/teacher ratio, a 58% minority enrollment, and 25% of its students are considered "economically disadvantaged". Its College Readiness Index is 87.4.

Mt. Lebanon High School is ranked #20 in the state and #962 nationally. It has a 15:1 student/teacher ratio, a 10% minority enrollment, and 8% of the student body is considered "economically disadvantaged". Its College Readiness Index is 35.6.


OK, I'm an out-of-state transplant; so tell me, what is it that my kids are supposed to get for the $11,000+ in school property taxes that I pay?

E. T. Gillen said...

Bob D.,
Your $11,000+ in school property taxes are going toward the $74,000 trophy case and Timmy's 7.5% salary increases.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget Timmy's Toilet!

Anonymous said...

And his pizza lunches and selfies with students!

Anonymous said...

And turf...

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how the 15:1 teacher ratio is correct. In many of the elementary schools, including my childrens, there are 25 kids in each class. This information can be found in the 3rd day enrollment numbers on the district website. by the way, these larger class sizes seem to be the trend. I have older kids and their classes were always 18 kids or less.

Bob D. said...

U.S. News shows a total enrollment AT THE MT. LEBANON HIGH SCHOOL of 1,786, and a total of 119 full-time teachers. 1787 divided by 119 = 15.01 students per teacher. That is what is being reported: a STUDENT/TEACHER ratio, NOT a class size.

On the other hand, the Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School, a HIGH SCHOOL, reports a total enrollment of 1,168 kids, and a total of 58 full-time teachers. 1168 divided by 58 = 20.14 students per teacher. Again, this is a student/teacher ratio, not a class size.

1:39pm, you may be correct about your kid's elementary school and the number of kids in a given class, but that's not what I reported in my earlier post. We're talking high schools here. The math involves averages of the number of students per teaching professional.

Excuse my irritation, but even in Texas we were taught how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide - and read a statistic.

Anonymous said...

This is to Bob D...

I'm not defending MTLSD, but I would like to point out that USN&WR rates college readiness based on percentage of students taking AP courses and their scores, which is a specious criterion. Also, the Masterson school has a rigorous admissions policy that ensures their student population is well positioned to achieve and perform.

Anonymous said...

Bob D, in a sense the school district and especially many of its proponents suggest that we face up to a rigorous admissions policy.
You pay obscene millage rates, roll over and accept escalating taxes year after year... or get the hell out.
As Mr. Matthews found out recently, one never questions or ask for a review of the numbers!!!

Bob D. said...

5:19pm - OK, let me point out to you that your own damn MLHS takes great pride in pointing out how well its students do on college prep tests and in AP classes, and how many kids they send to college. You may not like USN&WR's methodology, and I'm not a fan of the magazine, but they applied the same criteria throughout. Also, knocking Masterson for their admission policy is a bit hypocritical in a community that prides itself on how it keeps out the riffraff and keeps property values high. If I believed the rhetoric coming down from Horsman Drive I would expect every high school kid to be a Ph.D. candidate. Masterson is also showing a large minority enrollment (58%) and a large number of economically challenged kids. What's Mt. Lebanon's claim? - that 58% of their students have BMW's? I'd like to see the balance sheets for both Mt. Lebanon and Masterson. I'll bet Masterson spends less per kid while getting better results. What do you people spend education dollars on around here? - sports. And I hate to tell you this, but any of our Dallas high schools could spank your Blue Devils. Bottom line: the taxes I pay for education here are wasted on a first rate, second rate school district.

Anonymous said...

5:58 I agree with your opinion.

I am concerned about the goals Mt Lebanon has for its students. I was at a meeting with school district staff regarding my kid. I challenged some of their practices. The staff told me that they feel the "meet the mandates of the law" and "serve our population". What was concerning to me is that I expect an education that far exceeds the law (which in PA education is behind the times) for the taxes I pay and the PR about this fine tuned best practices, individualized education program for each and every student. The comment about serving "their population" was condescending and seemed to mean that the average family in Mt Lebanon doesn't really need much better than what they are offering.

Anonymous said...

Shocked Lebo scored that high. Our experience when we moved from Lebo out of state is that coming out of the elementary and middle schools our kids (who did well...straight A's in middle school) were a year behind in most subjects and 2 years behind in math. (Stupid TERC). Science was worse.

Just an FYI: Masterman in Philly is an exam school (as is NW Collegiate in Erie). Excellent schools...but they do get to take the best of the kids from across their respective districts. So you would expect them to perform well.

That said...20th in PA? The Mt. Lebanon emperor has no clothes...but damn he does have all new sports facilities and soon turf. The priorities are clear, aren't they!

Anonymous said...

I really hope that people take some time to reflect on the USN&WR rankings. Of course better rankings could be performed with additional variables, analysis, etc. But at the very least, they provide everyone with some data to reflect upon and maybe, just maybe, question the direction and authenticity of this school district.

Anonymous said...

Sure, it's easy to criticize the Commonwealth Foundation as being too conservation or too right wing, but it isn't easy to criticize the numbers in the links accompanying graph compiled by the Cato Institute.

Its funny that all of the democratic candidates for PA Governor declare their support for more money for education, but none define exctly what they recommend doing with all that additional spending.

Studies confirm that throwing more and more money doesn't improve results "for the kids!"

Anonymous said...

Bob - Your question about spending can be answered, albeit with some slightly older data by going to Interestingly, and this is something I truly rail against, if you believe there is a relationship between spending and student outcomes, then it looks like the districts who spend more are higher ranked. A quick spot check shows per pupil spending to be:
*New Hope $19,400
*Radnor $19,100
*Wyommising $15,800
*Unionville Chadds-Ford $15,800
*USC $14,200
*Mt Lebanon $13,900
*Philadelphia City $13,200 (I speculate that for the spending, Julia Masterson is probably an anomaly for Phi SD)

Bob D. said...

11:09pm - OK, pard, I went to your website and asked for spending comparisons for five DISTRICTS (even though my previous post asked about spending for only Mt. Lebanon High School, since those are the rankings I cited earlier). Here are some numbers for academic year 2011/2012:
OVERALL cost per student per DISTRICT:
Philadelphia (which contains Masterman) - $13,167
Erie School District (containing Northwest PA Collegiate Academy) - $14,899
New Hope-Solebury School District (containing New Hope-Solebury HS) - $20,216
Wyomissing Area School District (containing Wyomissing Area Jr./Sr. HS) - $15,278
MLSD (containing our high school) - $14,586
I compared only the first four school districts in the USN&WR list to Mt. Lebanon because your website only allows five comparisons at a time, and I don't have all day to do this. So far it looks like your have a point - until you look at the actual amount of money spent on INSTRUCTION (and keep in mind both Erie and Philadelphia have more than one high school in their districts). Looking at the money spent in a DISTRICT for instruction as a percentage of its total expenditures one finds:
Philadelphia - 68%
Mt. Lebanon - 56%
New Hope - Solebury - 52%
Wyomissing - 51%
Erie - 50%

Except for Philadelphia, three of four school districts containing the top four high schools in Pennsylvania spend less money ON INSTRUCTION than #20 ranked Mt. Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

The following Almanac article pertains to USC SD pensions. Don't think for a minute that MTLSD isn't facing the same crisis or that the democrats running for governor proposing more state money for schools-- won't get that money from higher taxes!

"Jeffrey Clay, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System, traveled from Harrisburg at the request of the school board to update them on the status of the pension system.

“I’m glad to see people are talking about this issue at your level,” he told the school board, after informing them that the plan is currently underfunded state-wide by $32.5 billion, and the situation worsens each year.

“The unfunded liability continues to grow,” Clay said. “Some school boards are still in the dark. Some school boards say the state will take care of it and they’ve just put their heads in the sand.”

Clay said it’s like “we have a debt on the credit card, we’re not making the minimum payment and we are still charging on the card.”

School Board President Louis Mafrice asked Clay what he would do to correct the problem “if he were king.”

Clay said, “Everybody hates tax increases. But (the state) either needs to dramatically cut spending or properly raise revenues.”

He said what is probably needed is “pension reform plus funding increases ... unless they want to make draconian cuts.”

For more than a decade, Clay said the state has permitted school districts to pay less into the retirement system than is actually needed to fully fund it. He showed a chart indicating negative cash flow in the plan for every year since Fiscal Year 2000, when PSERS paid out $1.2 billion more than it took in. The figure had increased to $3.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2013.

Clay told the school board that the negative impact on school districts will increase with the June 30, 2015, reporting period when the state will require employers to indicate their net pension liability on their balance sheets. He said the liability will have to be reported as three times the total of the district’s payroll."

Anonymous said...

So PSERS is underfunded by more than the State budget. Does anyone really believe we can cure this underfunding without cuts?

Anonymous said...

So what is our district's answer to the pension crisis-- why of course-- raise salaries far above the CPI.
Its Harrisburg's problem, not theirs. The fact that they are making pension promises they can never afford, concerns them not.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but is there any truth to the rumor that this individual will deliver this year's commencement address to HS seniors?

Anonymous said...

No 11:08 PM, because the union influenced PDE allow the ever increasing PSERS costs to qualify for Act 1 waivers on max school district % millage increases each year; and, the union-paid-for PA legislature will do absolutely nothing about it.

The PDE has a rubber stamp for waiver approvals; and, exposure of deceptive "fake budgets" every January somehow escape their attention even when evidence is put before them, including legislators, by an observant taxpayer.

So, school taxes will continue to increase at rates higher than inflation primarily to pay for school union members outrageous pension benefits. The two bills currently in the PA legislature to change things are being very actively opposed by Democrats. Surprised ?

Anonymous said...

What is our district's nod to 21st century tools?
Steinhauer learned to tweet and they're buying boosters for yesterday's gadgetry... cell phones.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, has anyone heard anything about Lebo's 21st century education technology innovations.
Perhaps its drone delivery of those pizzas for Steinhauer's student lunches?

Anonymous said...

This is way off topic, but the quote below is from Steinhauer's blog.

"May 6, 2014
Thank you teachers!
Mt. Lebanon is fortunate to have committed, dedicated, and competent teachers. Thank you teachers for all you do to improve the lives of children."

Mt. Lebanon "is fortunate" to have committed, 'dedicated' and competent teachers!!! This statement is so damn infuriating.

The Oxford Dictionary defines fortunate as: "Favored by or involving good luck or fortune; lucky:"

That what we taxpayers are... "lucky?"
With the taxes we're paying these teachers sure as hell better be competent,  committed and dedicated.
The children we are sending into our schools are a far cry better prepared and supported by their families than those from many other districts.
 It is the teachers that should go down on their knees and thank the gods that they landed a job here. They could be teaching in Wilkinsburg, Duquesne or some backwater district.
If anyone is "fortunate" and thanking people it should be Steinhauer and the teachers thanking the people that shell out hard earned money to pay them!!!!
How do recent hires show their appreciation-- they file grievances.
Screw 'em.