Steel City savior?

Superman has flown into Pittsburgh's public schools--and this time his name isn't Ben Roethlisberger. It's Kaplan, Inc, the $1.4 billion (with a "b") education company hired to produce curriculum for the Steel City's middle- and high-school students. Frustrated by the city's persistently pitiful performance on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), the superintendent is paying Kaplan $8.4 million (with an "m") to create a curriculum keyed to the Commonwealth's English, math, science, and social studies standards. Once in place, every student will cover the same material at the same time, and every six weeks take a PSSA-style test on it. Fine, but the state's standards are no models of excellence (see here, here, here, and here). We wish Pittsburgh and Kaplan the best, but we wonder how sturdy can be a curriculum constructed upon such shoddy foundations.

"Attempting a Turnaround: All-new $8.4 million city school curriculum," by Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 16, 2006

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