Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Quantifying Promise

Lots of pontificating over the news that UPMC has offered between $10 and $100 million to fund the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program for Pittsburgh Public Schools students. They say the program here has been modeled after the program in place in Kalamazoo, MI. The Kalamazoo Promise has an officially designated 'scorekeeper' in the form of the venerable W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. I bet they have research we may want to take a look at before pontificating too much ourselves. Take a look at their collection of research just on this one program: http://www.upjohninst.org/promise/index.htm

But it did get me thinking about the math that will drive the costs and sustainability of a program like this. Lots of things go into the trends in census counts within school districts, but I was a bit surprised at how much of the decline in Pittsburgh Public Schools enrollment was just a very recent phenomenon.. by recent I mean the last 5 years even. Here is what that looks like:



Total Pittsburgh Public School Enrollment 1987-2005


Source: National Center for Educational Statistics, US Department of Education
I was going to supplement that graph with the most recent data, but according to the school districts own web page: "District-level enrollment information for 2007-08 is not yet available". How can that possibly be? It is now December and they have no idea how many students are coming through the doors each day?

3 Comments:

Blogger Jason Togyer said...

I can't speak to PPS in particular, but the lack of current data isn't unusual.

So many people move in and out of a typical school district during the summer and fall that most superintendents can only provide "guesstimates" until October or November.

Assuming PPS finished collecting the stats in October, that gave them November to compile them. (Insert your own joke about government efficiency.)

Thursday, December 06, 2007 2:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt they are in any hurry to release those numbers. Declining enrollment shoots up the per pupil costs. The last time I calculated it, Pittsburgh Public schools were spending close to $18k per pupil per year. I doubt they want to publicize that while the teachers are trying to get a raise. I calculated that figure because of an argument I have having with someone on another blog (topic: Why I support school vouchers even though I thought they were a bad idea before I moved to Pittsburgh).

Thursday, December 06, 2007 2:36:00 PM  
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