Creating Well-Rounded and Prepared Graduates
In just one generation, City High has gone from startup to standout and changed the educational landscape of the region. The success of our students tells the story, backed by winning statistics.
Culture: Social & Emotional Well-being
City High was designed culture-first. The founders laid out the kind of culture that they wanted students (and, crucially, adults too) to experience, then designed the school around those principles. Decisions from the curriculum to the calendar to the physical layout of classrooms were designed with the following in mind:
Connection to others
Connection to the real world
City High’s external evaluator has identified looping, co-teaching, the workforce curriculum and the advisory program as among the most important design features supporting for City High’s culture.
Each year for the past 20 years, City High has asked all stakeholders (students, faculty, staff, parents) whether or not the school is living up to those values. This chart shows the percent of students who said their experience with the school reflected each of those values “Mostly” or “Completely” (top 2 points on a five-point scale). The chart compares student responses in the four school years prior to the pandemic to the two pandemic-affected school years.
In terms of students’ social and emotional well-being, note that the percent of students feeling that the school provided both a safe environment and a caring environment actually increased during the pandemic. Safe environment went from 74% to 84% while caring environment went from 59% to 73%.
The extent to which students report experiencing these values consistently increases the longer they have been in the school, suggesting the power of the looping model in which students stay with the same teachers throughout their high school years.
Attendance- whether or not students consistently show up- is a very direct measure of a school’s climate, particularly for high schools. City High has consistently maintained an Average Daily Attendance rate over 90%, including during online learning.
Each year we ask students directly about their experience of equitable treatment in the school. In the 2020-21 school year the following percent of students agreed to each of these statements:
|People of different cultural backgrounds, races, or ethnicities get along well at this school.||96%|
|This school provides instructional materials that reflect my cultural background, ethnicity, and identity.||96%|
|When it comes to discipline, students are treated equally regardless of their race, gender, or identity.||84%|
|Teachers here have the same high expectations for students regardless of race, gender, or identity.||94%|
|Teachers here understand my background and community||80%|
4-year cohort graduation rates for African American students, economically disadvantaged students, and special education students are equal to or higher than the school’s overall graduation rate and significantly higher than rates for those sub-groups in the city and state schools:
Special education students at City High consistently report experiencing City High’s core values and experiencing equitable treatment at a rate even higher than their non-Special Ed peers:
City High’s 4-year cohort graduation rate of 90.8% for the class of 2020 compares to 77.6% in the PPS and 87.4% for the state as a whole.
City High’s rate of Pittsburgh Promise eligibility is consistently among the highest in the City: 91% of Pittsburgh residents qualified in comparison to a city-wide average of 62% (Class of 2019, last year for which there is comparison data).
Resilience of the Model
Indicators of culture, equity, and achievement remained consistent during the pandemic, or in the case of maintaining the school’s culture even increased (see above).
The table below shows the % of faculty, students, and parents who said the school did a Good, Very Good, or Excellent job with each aspect of managing pandemic schooling
|Keeping everyone safe||96%||91%||99%|
|Responding to changing conditions/staying flexible||92%||87%||98%|
|Keeping students engaged in learning||74%||74%||91%|