Pittsburgh Public Schools

Pittsburgh Public Schools

The district aims to create a comprehensive K-12 STEAM experience for their students, focusing pedagogy on integrating experiential and project-based learning into the curriculum and building 21st century skills.

State: Pennsylvania Number of Students: 24,190
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 62.0%
Grade Level: PK-12 English Language Learners: 3.1%

School Context

Excellent Teachers, Excellent Results: The district has worked with the local teachers’ union as well as the GatesFoundation to advance the teaching profession and ensure all students have access to high quality teachers.

Equity for All: PPS strives to eliminate racial disparities in achievement through culturally responsive curriculum and stafftraining.

Culture Counts: The district prioritizes growth milestones in grades K-12, to ensure that students will be able to takeadvantage of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarships upon graduation.

Pittsburgh Promise: A local nonprofit, The Pittsburgh Promise, provides noncompetitive scholarships for all PPSgraduates who attend school 90% of the time and achieve a 2.5 GPA . The district focuses on preparing students to meet thescholarship qualifications.

State of Technology

Behind the Scenes: Pittsburgh Public School (PPS) is partnering withFibertech Networks, a premier provider of high-performance networksolutions, to connect its 61 sites with new fiber optic broadbandinfrastructure. The new network will consist of a 10 Gigabit Ethernetnetwork connecting the 61 schools and terminating at the PPS Datacenter. The update will provide the necessary bandwidth to support moredevices, while increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

1:1 Schools Leading the Way: Five district schools have a 1:1 student-to-device ratio; three of these schools use iPads and two use laptops.

Innovative Magnets: This year, the district converted an under-enrolledPreK-5 school, in danger of closing, into its third partial STEAM magnetschool. Woolslair Elementary (PreK-5) along with Lincoln Elementary (PreK-5) and Schiller Middle School (6-8) focus their pedagogy on integratingexperiential and project-based learning into the curriculum, which isfocused on building 21st century skills. Eventually, the district hopes tocreate a STEAM focused high school to support a K-12 STEAM experience.

Pathway to the 21st Century: The Grable Foundation and the Fund forExcellence provided $900,000 to create a comprehensive K-12 STEAMpathway. Currently the district has used these funds to support threeSTEAM-focused schools with pilots. To facilitate this pathway, the districtplans to hire two new STEAM teachers who will lead programs at all threeschools and coach teachers on developing STEAM related projects. Theschools will also build STEAM labs with plenty of spaces for hands-onprojects.

Teachers Innovate: In the fall of 2015, teachers, principals and schoolsin the district were invited to apply for STEAM mini-grants for innovativeprojects in their classrooms. Proposals must include a cross-disciplinaryapproach. Teachers are encouraged to collaborate and share resourcesand best practices inside and outside of the district.

Tech Needs & Requirements

There are not specific requirements, but the district istrying to create a more differentiated portfolio of tools andis moving towards cloud and web-based software. Pittsburgh Public Schools is looking for a more comprehensive app review tool to help navigate the massive app world,especially one that facilitates sharing and learning between educators.


Perry High School is slated to expand its biotechnology program in the next two years.

Pittsburgh Public Schools was recently selected to join the STEM Funders Network STEM Learning Ecosystems Initiative. Theinitiative will create a national Community of Practice to promote cross-industry collaboration and support from leaderssuch as superintendents and scientists.

*Content From 2015

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