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Pittsburgh Schools Use the Summer to Prepare for the Future

Pittsburgh Schools Create High School Reform Task Force

This summer Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt announced the creation of the Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force. The Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will be comprised of education professionals, private foundations, business professionals, parents, and community members. The Task Force will investigate the current practices in the Pittsburgh Schools and determine what the best approach to high school reform should be. Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will be responsible for evaluating and ultimately redesigning Pittsburgh Schools’ high schools as part of Pittsburgh Schools’ “Excellence for All” reform plan. The “Excellence for All” plan aims to improve the academic performance and increase graduation rates in all Pittsburgh Schools.

The most important goal of the “Excellence for All” reform plan is to increase the graduation rate by 10 percent by the end of the 2008-2009 school year. Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will spearhead reform so that high school students will have the opportunities to succeed after high school. The main tenet of the “Excellence for All” reform plan is that all students no matter what their age, experience or background can achieve quality education. The Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will evaluate education in high schools based on six main principles. These principles will be used to guide the changes in the high schools: personalized learning environment; academic engagement of all students; empowered educators; accountable leaders; engaged communities and youth and an integrated system of curriculum, instruction, and assessment supports.

Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force Members and Funding

The Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will be led jointly by Jan Ripper, Principal on Special Assignment for high school reform and Dr. Lynn Spampinato, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, Assessment, and Accountability. Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will visit and observe techniques used in nationally recognized high schools in urban centers around the US to determine which techniques would be beneficial to Pittsburgh Schools. Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will be funded mainly through a grant of 5,000 from the
Fund in Excellence in the Pittsburgh Schools. The Fund in Excellence in the Pittsburgh Schools is a recently created by a local foundation. The inaugural event for the Pittsburgh Schools High School Reform Task Force will be a meeting with renowned educator Dr. Willard R. Daggett, President of the International Center for Leadership in Education.
The current members of the Task Force are: Dara Ware Allen - Executive Director, YouthWorks, Inc.; Seppy Basili - Senior Vice President, Kaplan K12 Learning Services; Dr. Charles Blocksidge - Vice President of Organizational Development/Frieda G. Shapira Center for Learning, Community College of Allegheny County; Susan Brownlee - Executive Director, The Grable Foundation; Honorable Kevin E. Cooper - Pittsburgh District Judge; Joseph Dominic – Director, Education Program, The Heinz Endowments; George Gensure - Executive Board Member and Staff Member, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Dr. Cecilia Griffin Golden - Chief Executive Officer, YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh; Ruth Howze – PPS Parent Representative; Rufus Jordan – Executive Board Member and Staff Member, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers; Jeffrey Laurenson – PPS High School Teacher, Brashear High School; Dr. Alan Lesgold – Dean, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh; David J. Malone - President and CEO, Gateway Financial; Chairman of PA Workforce Investment Board; Dr. Indira Nair - Vice Provost for Education, Carnegie Mellon University; Ronald D. Painter - Chief Executive Officer, Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board; Jeanne Pearlman - Senior Program Officer for Education and the Arts, The Pittsburgh Foundation; Gregory K. Peaslee - Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Construction and Property Management, UPMC; Douglas Silinski - PPS Parent Representative; Linda Serody - PPS Parent Representative; Gregory R. Spencer – President and CEO, Randall Enterprises, LLC; Former Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Equitable Resources, Inc. ; Michael T. Thorson - Former Principal of Creative And Performing Arts (CAPA) High School; Doris Carson Williams – President, African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania; and Yolanda C. Wilkins – PPS Arlington Academy (ALA) Teacher; Former PPS High School Teacher

About the Author: Stacy Andell is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. Stacy has a nose for research and writes stimulating news and views on school issues. For more on Pittsburgh schools visit

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