School District Begins Specific Efforts to Accelerate Improvement at Three Schools
PHILADELPHIA – As part of its System of Great Schools (SGS) program, the School District of Philadelphia has identified three elementary schools that will be prioritized for investment and academic improvement in the upcoming school year. The schools include the following:
- Avery D. Harrington Elementary School (K-8), 5300 Baltimore Avenue
- Robert E. Lamberton Elementary School (6-8), 7501 Woodbine Avenue
- Alain Locke Elementary School (K-8), 4550 Haverford Avenue
The School District of Philadelphia reviews the performance of all schools each year to determine which are most in need of additional investments and interventions in order to improve outcomes for students. The three schools will remain open and will not become Renaissance Charter schools.
Harrington, Lamberton and Locke met three 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, Acceleration Network, School Redesign Initiative). Third, the school has a three-year School Progress Report (SPR) average score equal to or less than 15 out of 100.
“To achieve our vision of a great school close to where every student lives, we know some schools need more support so that children can have the learning opportunities they deserve,” Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “Each year, through the System of Great Schools process, we are able to bring those additional supports to schools.”
The three schools can enter the District’s Acceleration Network or implement a school-designed plan to improve student progress. The Acceleration Network saw the largest improvements in the 2017-2018 School Progress Report in any network. School-designed improvement plans provide an important opportunity for principals, teachers, and families to build on school strengthens to accelerate student achievement.
“We’re seeing academic improvement in the schools that we have prioritized and invested in,” said Dr. Hite. “When we work with school leaders, teachers, families and stakeholders to identify school strengths and challenges, we can more effectively target resources and accelerate improvement.”
Beginning September 25, stakeholder engagement and collaborative listening forums will be held among school staff, students, families and school communities about how best to improve a school. The District is seeking the active engagement and participation of families, teachers, principals and community members through school quality reviews, focus groups and surveys.
Each school community will have a community kick-off meeting, multiple parent and family focus groups, an on-site school quality review, and a final meeting to review the results of the engagement and school review process. For the first time in this process, the school quality review will be led by the District’s central office staff with a team that includes an assistant superintendent, principal, members of the school leadership team, classroom teachers, a parent or family member, network support team members and other designated central office staff. The school quality review will include the following:
- Meetings with teachers and principals to identify the school’s strengths which can be built upon
- Focus groups with students and staff
- Classroom observations focused on the essential elements of school improvement — including the quality of teaching and learning, leadership, and school climate
The information gathered 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. Gideon, Penn Treaty, Wagner Middle School, and Feltonville Arts and Sciences each spent the spring of 2018 developing strong, individualized academic improvement plans that are supported with additional funding for the schools to begin implementation this school year.
James Rhoads and Steel, which transitioned into the Acceleration Network, received classroom modernizations over the summer and the principals, teachers, and staff have been hard at work planning for instruction with support from the Acceleration Network model. More information on the intervention options can be found at www.philasd.org/greatschools/investmentsandinterventions.