Monday, October 17, 2016

Timmy earns more than the super at the #1 school district in the state

It's the first time in two years the Pennsylvania Department of Education has calculated scores for each of the school districts in the state. Good news for the Upper St. Clair Superintendent. Bad news for Super Tim.




See the top 15 listed separately by clicking on the link above.











Go to Timmy's getting what? to find out how much our superintendent makes in a year.



37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for him! God bless him for helping make our schools so outstanding!

E. T. Gillen said...

Yeah, right.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. I moved my family here for the quality of the schools and they've been everything I've expected and more. Why shouldn't the head of the district be well compensated?

Anonymous said...

It's time to look for a replacement for Tim. He is overpriced and underperforming.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. Baldwin came in ahead of Mt. Lebanon. The times they are a changing.

E. T. Gillen said...

Again, that's why we pay Timmy the big salary and gets merit pay on top of that. So that Upper St. Clair and B A L D W I N can pass us by. They don't pay their supers what we pay ours. Somethings not right here.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Baldwin is better than NA? I have a bridge to sell you.

Anonymous said...

The point here is that Baldwin ranks higher than Mt. Lebanon. The MTLSD school board needs to address this issue---quickly.

Anonymous said...

He is highly compensated for a relatively small school district where many measures of student achievement are showing declines and taxes continue to go up. Just compare his compensation to other districts of commensurate size, rank, etc. -- you will see the difference.

Anonymous said...

US News Ranks Lebo 21st in PA; they use different stats. Overall, Lebo is 911 in national rankings. Just a few years ago, it was in the 500s. Surely this change isn't all due to the superintendent, but it isn't positive.

Jason Margolis said...

While it is more than fair to look at the excessive tax burden within MTL, these test scores are largely irrelevant.

First, there is pretty strong evidence coming out that these tests do not really measure student learning, or the quality of the teaching or district, but they say more about the extent to which the student population demographically matches the upper-middle class template of knowledge designed by the test makers.

Additionally and relatedly, when you get up to #1, or #7, or #11, it's all statistical irrelevance. USC is no "better" than MTL because they are #1 and we are #10. Most likely, there is more lower-income housing -- and therefore more diversity in ways of knowing and displaying knowledge -- in the MTL schools.

I view this as an asset. My daughter is in 1st grade at Lincoln, which is probably one of the more "diverse" MTL schools. I couldn't care less if they rank #1 or #10 - it's a caring school and she is meeting a decent variety (though not as much as I would want) of kids.

Anyway, the idea that there is a straight line between teacher/school quality and student learning as measured by standardized tests has largely been debunked. These tests more "pick up feedback" on a host of other factors, including fatal flaws in the test themselves, as well as a variety of societal influences.




Anonymous said...

Maybe Tim should pay more attention to academics than he does to building facades.

E. T. Gillen said...

Jason, the PBT article states: This month, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released the 2016 School Performance Profile scores for each school in the state. It's the first time in two years that there has been a calculating of the scores, which the state said are now dependent on standardized test scores and the PA Core Standards. But the state hasn't released how the scores are exactly calculated. You can see a ranking of the top 50 local high schools on the list, based on the 11th grade scores.

Do you remember a couple of years ago, Timmy was really upset that the Keystone Exams were not taken seriously by the students? Across the state, the district's proficiency was measured, not the student's, with the Keystone Exams. MTL made it mandatory that all students had to score Proficient in the Keystone Exams or else they would not be able to graduate unless they retested or did a project. Gov. Wolf signed a 2 year halt in Keystone Exams' graduation mandate in February. I'm sure you are aware of that. So these scores were from last year, when the pressure was on for the students to perform.

Back in 2013, Mt. Lebanon scored the highest in Allegheny County, a 99.5. Admittedly, the PDE has not released how the scores were calculated, but an article from 2013 New assessment shows fuller picture of Pa. schools indicates that Mt. Lebanon scored the highest in Allegheny County based on test scores, growth of test scores, graduation rates and other factors.
Elaine

RG said...

In the public school system measuring student achievement is a matter of: 1)knowing what results are desired, 2)designing tests to achieve those results, 3)testing students with tests so designed and to which students have been previously exposed, and 4)getting the expected results. This is no different that sloppy science, where a scientist devises an experiment to "prove" that his or her expected result is valid when, in actual fact, the results are far different.

As far as money is concerned, whether Dr. S. deserves his six-figure salary is largely, if you'll excuse the pun, "academic." It has been shown time and time again that once a certain level of funding has been achieved additional expenditures produce minimal, if any, improvement in educational quality. The U.S. has been throwing money into "education" for decades, with little to show for it. (As an aside, paying a poor teacher more money with the expectation that he or she will improve is foolish. The same goes for a superintendent.) Of course, our local polity will point with pride to data from standardized tests - the ones I just described in the paragraph above - and say, "See?! - our high taxes are worth it! - our schools are great and our super is dong a first-rate job!" But in a community were status is everything, and where "money talks and nobody walks," that kind of attitude is not surprising.

RG said...

Oops...let's make "This is no different that sloppy science..." read "This is no different than sloppy science..."

Anonymous said...

I agree that standardized tests leave something to be desired and that students are forced to take too many of them. Further, it is important to consider the diversity of the student population. However, Mt Lebanon is failing to heed the state's mission to reduce significant educational outcome gaps among the students based on diversity of income, race, etc. This failure reduced the district's overall score/ranking. It will take substantial systemic change on Mt Lebanon's part to address these issues with success.

E. T. Gillen said...

I love your play on words, 7:37 AM. Our local governments pride themselves on building facades. Both PIO's do it quite well.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

11:14--

I couldn't agree more. However, I do not think that the word "diversity" is in the MTLSD dictionary.

Buddy

Anonymous said...

You are welcome for the play on words, Elaine.

Buddy

Anonymous said...

Jason, While you may or may not be right about the value of these rankings relating to the kids education, the ranking do have another impact.
At least we're told that time and time again.
They influence home buyers.

For out-of-towners looking for the best bang-for-the-buck school district, the difference between #1 with lower taxes and #10 with higher taxes might be the tipping point on where to settle.
Or it may have a big impact on how much they offer on our houses when we sell.
If you can get a newer home with more property and the #1 district in USC vs an older home with a small lot and a #10 district, which might the buyers chose?

Could these rankings be the tipping point towards a downward spiral?

Anonymous said...

You've nailed it 12:55. The scores from one class of 11th graders is going to be the ruination of all Mt. Lebanon. Please, take a breath and stop stocking the apocalypse shelves with bottled water and canned goods.

Dr. Margolis and I don't agree much, but this time he nailed it. He's spot on. And besides, if you don't like where Mt. Lebanon falls on this set of rankings, wait 2 weeks and another set will come out placing Lebo at #1 and USC at #10.

Dave Franklin

Anonymous said...

I think that 12:55 raises a good point about these rankings influencing prospective home buyers. Many families who live in the city move to the suburbs once their children become school-aged. In fact, I've heard of some buying the least desirable or cheapest house on the market here only to enroll their kids in Mt. Lebanon schools. However, based on these recent rankings, it would seem that a high end or moderate house in Baldwin would be preferable.

Anonymous said...

Dave, considering Pennsylvania's budget problems, you might want to contact Gov. Wolf, Dan Miller and Guy Reschenthaler and recommend they tell the PDE to stop wasting our tax dollars on, according to you, useless school rankings.

Anonymous said...

Happy to. I'll start with Dan and Guy. Should I copy you? Oh wait, I would need to know who are first. Oh Shucks. This anonymous poster thing gets so complicated.

Dave Franklin

Anonymous said...

No need to copy me. Your a man of your word. You are a man of your word, yes ?

E. T. Gillen said...

If Dave feels strongly enough about something, he will send emails. Take for instance this one. It has cost me thousands of dollars. Yes, Dave, it is all about intimidation.
Elaine


Anonymous said...

Sure he is 7:43. Just ask Pass Time.

Anonymous said...

We are so lucky to have someone like Mr. Franklin, aren't we?

Here's a guy that not only has an issue with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state legislature that allows it to exist, but also seems to have an issue with the Founding Fathers' Bill of Rights and the United States Supreme Courts ruling supporting those rights.

Apparently, he has issues not only with the PA Dept. of Education's School Rankings, but also with rulings by the Supreme Court of the United States!

"Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment. A frequently cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads:

Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

The tradition of anonymous speech is older than the United States. Founders Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers under the pseudonym "Publius " and "the Federal Farmer" spoke up in rebuttal. The US Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized rights to speak anonymously derived from the First Amendment.
The right to anonymous speech is also protected well beyond the printed page. Thus in 2002 the Supreme Court struck down a law requiring proselytizers to register their true names with the Mayor's office before going door-to-door.

These long-standing rights to anonymity and the protections it affords are critically important for the Internet. As the Supreme Court has recognized the Internet offers a new and powerful democratic forum in which anyone can become a "pamphleteer" or "a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox."

Thank you, Mr. Franklin for protecting us al from ourselves!

E. T. Gillen said...

6:55 AM, Mr. Franklin has posted a few anonymous comments in his day. Don't let him divert the conversation.
Elaine

Anonymous said...

Yes, back to the subject at hand.

Again, for me the question is whether or not these rankings- be from the PDE, USNews, Pittsburgh Business Times, Consumer Reports or other influence homebuyers. Apparently they do or these publications and organizations wouldn't devote time in preparing them, whether they're ranking school districts, colleges, vehicles or toasters.

I would hope that smart homebuyers would not base their home purchase on just one ranking, but I would also suspect that one from the PDE would carry some weight. Same as I would hope those prospect buyers would look at everything a community has to offer.

I don't disagree with Jason as well and I'll give an example.
Consumer Reports may rank say, the Jeep Cherokee at the bottom of SUVs. I may as an owner of a Cherokee, might proclaim CR is full of crap... I own one and it has been the best and most dependable SUV I've ever owned.
That doesn't mean CRs ranking are faulty or wrong.
But for a new SUV buyer, that doesn't know me or my experience with the Jeep, that CR ranking carries weight.

Now if we're here to debate how the PDE or others create there rankings on schools, I'll leave that up to more qualified people. I hope those at the PDE are such.

E. T. Gillen said...

If you go back and click on the link I provided to the 2013 article in my October 18 9:01 AM comment, you will find that the PDE ranked MTL as the #1 school in Allegheny County. Principal McFeeley was quoted as saying, "This is a validation of all of the wonderful things that we've been doing at Mt. Lebanon High School not just for the last year but for many years now," said principal Brian McFeeley." So in 2013, the PDE rankings are credible because they are positive, but not credible* in 2016?

You can spin it any way you like, but Timmy is not worth what he is being paid. Even the PDE rankings from 2013 to the present show that he is taking us in the wrong direction.

*Phrase used frequently in the last two days.

Elaine

Jason Margolis said...

I think the best argument over very highly-paid admins in MTL would need to rest on the opposite logic ... It is not:

Because student test scores are lower --> Admins need to be paid less.

It would be:

Because MTL is an economically diverse, not a rich, community, as captured in student test scores which essentially measure SES not student learning, MTL admins should be paid less.

It is more related to the "Lower Upper Class" mentality I have written about:

http://www.thealmanac.net/article/20150126/OPINION02/150129967

Anonymous said...

Again, it is time for Tim to move on.

RG said...

People DO look at school ratings when they choose where to live; but when that is the ONLY thing they look at then a community gets ladened with "transitional residents"; i.e., people who do not want to live in the community for the "long haul" and intend to move out as soon as the last child leaves the nest. These people tend to support tax increases that will be passed on to the permanent residents and the next group of suckers after they leave. It is my opinion that Mt. Lebanon has a substantial number of these people. They certainly care about their children because they want the best education for them that other people's money can buy and think they can get it here; but they do not care if what they want for their children negatively impacts other families. If those other families can't hack it then they should get out! We've all heard that drivel before.

As far as ratings and rankings are concerned, Mr. Franklin makes a cogent point: If you don't like what you see about Mt. Lebanon schools just wait a while and it will change. But EG is spot on when she writes that some people will laud the 2013 PDE rankings and dismiss the 2016 numbers, and the reason for this is that when a person WANTS his schools to be good then he will only pay attention to those numbers that support his prejudice. Is anyone surprised at this? After all, if you moved here for the schools and then a few years later see some rankings that don't support your decision then you are likely to dismiss those numbers as a fluke. And to the point about Dr. S. not being worth what he is paid, I agree. The achievements of our Mt. Lebanon students are more a function of their DNA than anything our superintendent has done. In fact you could put Deep Blue in as superintendent and get the same results - maybe better!

Anonymous said...

Exactly, Elaine.

I'd bet it wouldn't take to much effort to find something in print or on tape where someone referenced that PDE 2013 #1 ranking to justify raises, higher taxes or that a #1 school district keeps our property values high.

In fact, without much effort you already found one with Mr. McFeeley's quote.

Now as you point out, we're not in the top ranks and the PDE rankings don't mean anything.

Do you think that soon someone soon will try to associate global warming and the lack of air conditioning in some of our schools with the disappointing 20016 PDE ranking?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gideon, first you write that rankings DO influence buyers, then you immediately agree with Mr. Franklin that we only have to wait a bit and the rankings will change.

I disagree some what. The PDE rankings, I believe education won't change any time soon at least not for this year. So if a home buyer places great stock in the state's rankings we're stuck until the new ratings come out.

Now if you are suggesting that potential homebuyers may see another rating and because its top of mind and use that as a basis for making a choice, I won't argue that.

So I guess for new home buyers it's which ranking they see first if I'm to buy into your thinking.

For us that live here and plan on staying, might I suggest we look at the trend.

A quick search and I found that another school district survey-- the Pittsburgh Business Times Regional School District rankings, Mt. Lebanon was #1 in 2014, #3 in 2015 and #3 in 2016. Nothing to panic about, the difference between #1 and #3 isn't much. It is brief look for sure, but that short view doesn't show an improving ranking.

I'm not going to do this because I don't get paid to do it, but I suggest perhaps we can ask the administration to compile a spread sheet of the rankings (those they take stock in) and plot them out for... say a decade.

If it shows rankings consistently placing in the top 10, it would be in my opinion to the districts benefit as well as our to show that. Shout it out to the world! Especially on the districts's web site.

On the other hand, if over a period of time, we go from 1,2,3 rankings to 3,4,5 or lower rankings, it might be good time to start looking at why.

There could be many reasons and not all have to do with the administration or the teachers.

RG said...

To October 19, 2016 at 1:38 PM (whoever you are):
"Mr. Gideon, first you write that rankings DO influence buyers, then you immediately agree with Mr. Franklin that we only have to wait a bit and the rankings will change.
Yes; of course rankings influence buyers! But Mr. Franklin was being somewhat "ironic" in suggesting one may simply wait a couple of weeks and a different rating will be forthcoming. He is using the "reductio ad absurdum" form of argument to make his point. We don't get bi-weekly rankings of our schools, but we do get rankings from different organizations at various times during the year. (Mr. Franklin is actually proposing that the Mt. Lebanon school system is tops; a position that I surmise you find correct - Si?)

"Now if you are suggesting that potential homebuyers may see another rating and because its top of mind and use that as a basis for making a choice, I won't argue that.
I don't know what "..its top of mind.." means.

"So I guess for new home buyers it's which ranking they see first if I'm to buy into your thinking."
NO. I said that once a family is here, and assuming that a large part of that decision was based on school rankings, they will likely discount any subsequent rankings that contradict their original thinking. I also will reiterate my initial point that if school rankings are the ONLY criteria for choosing a community then it is likely that the choice is being made by the parents' perceived "sake of the children," and that once the kids are gone so are they. You may find this horrifying, but people who live their lives strictly for the sake of their children do not do themselves or their children any favors.

I have lived here since 1975. I also taught school for 23 years - 22 in a post-secondary institution. I have dealt with the products of the public school system, including the "top rated" districts in the county. The difference between students from the "better" communities is not that much, if any. That being the case, prospective home buyers would be best advised to consider ALL the variables before buying into any community, and not just numbers from the PDE or any other rating organization.