District Continues Work to Improve Schools Most In Need

Posted on September 19, 2017
Categories: News from SDP

Philadelphia –  Every year the School District of Philadelphia reviews the performance of all schools to determine which are most in need of additional investments and interventions in order to improve outcomes for students. Today the School District of Philadelphia announced a series of school community engagement meetings and school quality reviews for six schools that data show to be most in need of rapid academic improvement.

“Every school has strengths and challenges, and every school community is unique, but the goal for all children and all schools is the same: to ensure all children are able to learn and to succeed,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia.

“Despite investments made in all schools, some schools are not meeting students’ needs and parents’ expectations.  We will prioritize a set of schools to receive focused intervention to drive school wide academic improvement and ensure better outcomes for our students. We will look at the facts, consider school community input, and then make recommendations on the best way to rapidly improve each school community,” added Hite.

For the 2017–2018 school year, the District will again focus on schools that meet three specific criteria.  First, the school has been low performing for three consecutive years; second, the school is not currently part of any major intervention program (Closing/Merging, HS pilot, Turnaround Network, SRI); and third, the school has a three-year School Progress Report average score equal to or less than 15 out of 100.  The schools meeting those three criteria and prioritized for school improvement this year are:

Gideon (K-8)

Steel (K-8)
Feltonville Arts and Sciences (6-8)

Wagner (6-8)
James Rhoads (K-8)

Penn Treaty (6-12)

The District also announced that none of the schools named would be closed and none of the schools will become a Renaissance Charter as a part of this year’s process.  Last year, the District launched a high school improvement cohort supported by a high-performing high school support organization – the Institute for Student Achievement. Penn Treaty will be joining this cohort of high schools, alongside Overbrook, Kensington Health Sciences Academy, and Fels. School Quality Reviews and community feedback will be used to inform priorities and focus for that work.

Next week will begin a period of stakeholder engagement and collaborative listening forums among school staff, students, families and school communities about how best to improve their school.   The District is seeking the active engagement and participation of families, teachers, principals and community members through meetings, focus groups, and surveys.

Each school community will have a community kick-off meeting, multiple parent focus groups, a community town hall meeting, a two-day on-site school quality review visit, and a final meeting to review the results of the engagement and school review process. The on-site school quality review for each school will include the following:

  • Meetings with teachers and principals to identify the school’s strengths which can be built upon.
  • Focus groups with students, staff, and family members.
  • Classroom observations focused on the essential elements of school improvement – including the quality of teaching and learning, leadership, and school climate.

The information gathered over the next months will be presented to each individual school community at a public meeting in November.  The complete engagement and listening schedule for each school can be found at https://www.philasd.org/greatschools/investmentsandinterventions/.

Last year as part of the annual System of Great Schools investments and interventions process, several schools took the lead in developing their own improvement plans.  Bartram, Harding, Hartranft, and McDaniel each presented strong, individualized academic improvement plans that were approved by the District for implementation.  More information on the intervention options can be found at www.philasd.org/greatschools/investmentsandinterventions.

School intervention options can include:

  • Entering the school into the District’s Turnaround Network
  • Engaging a school support services partner (ie: coaching supports, leadership supports; climate supports, etc.)
  • Implementing a school designed plan for school improvement (only for schools deemed to be ready)
  • Restarting the school with a new academic model
  • Or other impactful ideas that emerge from the review and input process