Despite cutbacks in education budgets, Pittsburgh public schools might just be having their best year yet. The Hill District based non-profit, A+ Schools, released a report this week examining the progress of Pittsburgh public schools. The Seventh Annual Report to the Community on Public School Progress in Pittsburgh details in its 125 pages the achievements of individual students and analyzes emerging trends. We’re happy to report that the data uncovered by the study is promising.

According to the research, not only is the racial achievement gap narrowing, but the city is also producing more “promise-ready” students than ever before. The Pittsburgh City Paper highlighted these other positive details from the 2010-2011 report:

  • All but one district grade level made gains in reading and math greater than the state’s academic gains in those two subjects. The exception was 11th-grade math, which declined for the second year in a row.
  • 59 percent of district seniors earned grade point averages that qualified them for the Promise scholarship, an increase of 4 percentage points from the previous year.
  • The district’s graduation rate in 2011 (89.2 percent) increased by 6.8 percentage points from 2010.
  • Nearly 65 percent of the district’s seniors took the SAT exam, an increase of 4.2 percent points.

“We are seeing a lot of progress,” Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools said of the report’s findings. “There’s plenty to be proud of in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.”

Although it’s assuring to see these increases in acheivement and equality for Pittsburgh students, we’re not completely out of the woods yet. Take this for example: in all eight of Pittsburgh’s public high schools, 60% of white seniors were elegible for the Pittsburgh Promise academic college scholarship. This percentage was only matched by two schools in the district when it came to black students. Although the gap is narrowing, it’s still substantial.

Pittsburgh public schools also need to face these ongoing issues while battling budget cutbacks totaling $38 million and a proposed elimination of 300 teaching positions in the upcoming year. The task ahead is daunting, but if there’s anything we know about Pittsburghers it’s this: we’re resourceful and resilient. We’re excited to see our fellow educators and organizations rise to the challenge in this coming year.