District Releases Action Plan Update Showing Significant Progress Toward Anchor Goals
District making improvements in college and career readiness, early literacy, staffing and fiscal stability for third consecutive year
PHILADELPHIA — The School District of Philadelphia’s update around its Action Plan 3.0 released today shows three consecutive years of improvement for city schools, including increasing graduation and early literacy rates, greater fiscal stability and enhanced classroom modernization investments.
“The progress that we are seeing in schools across the city is not a coincidence; it’s because of intentional planning around how we can best support our diverse school communities,” said Dr. William R. Hite, superintendent. “We have made investments in classroom renovations, teacher training, course offerings and other student supports to enhance learning experiences for all students. As a result, our work has resulted in double the number of higher-performing schools and 50 percent fewer lower-performing schools since 2015. And while we have more work to do, we are proud of how far we have come and all that our students have accomplished.”
The District’s Action Plan 3.0 was originally released in 2015, with four Anchor Goals:
100 percent of students will graduate ready for college or career;
100 percent of eight-year-olds will read on or above grade level;
100 percent of positions will be filled by great principals, teachers and employees; and
100 percent of funding for great schools will be secured with zero deficit.
“I’m so pleased that across our city, more children are reading and more young adults are graduating ready for college and careers,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “This continued progress is the result of the District’s steadfast commitment to strategies that work. To build on this progress, the City will provide an additional $700 million in new funding for public education over the next five years, while also expanding opportunities for students through after-school programs, Community Schools, and career counseling. I am grateful to Dr. Hite and District employees for their hard work, and I look forward to our continued collaboration in support of Philadelphia’s students.”
College and career readiness is improving among students. Since 2015, the District has doubled the number of Advanced Placement and dual enrollment courses available to students, with more than 6,700 students now enrolled in courses that count toward college credits. More than 7,300 students earned over 13,400 industry certifications over the last three years. In addition, 79 percent of students in District-managed schools graduated in four years, up six percentage points from 2015. The graduation rate for students in both District schools and alternative education programs is also improving, at 69 percent — up four percentage points.
Students are also making strides in literacy, with 36 percent of eight-year-olds reading on or above grade level, up three percentage points since 2015. The number of third graders scoring at the lowest level on the PSSA assessments has also decreased by six percentage points. All District elementary schools have an early literacy coach to ensure high quality literacy instruction, and the District has also modernized 223 early literacy classrooms among 19 schools with updated technology and furniture.
The 2018-2019 school year started out strong from a staffing perspective, with 99 percent of teaching positions filled at the start of the school year. One in three teachers hired were educators of color, and the number of teacher residents doubled, creating a pipeline of highly qualified teachers who are engaging with our city’s youth.
In addition, in December 2018, Moody’s Investor Services upgraded the District’s underlying bond rating by two notches to Baa3, marking the first time Moody’s assigned an Investment Grade rating for the District since 1977. Moody’s also set the District’s outlook to “Stable.”
All of the improvements come as the District is governed by a locally-appointed Board of Education for the first time in nearly two decades. With local control, the City and District are working more closely together to tackle challenges and set goals to improve the educational outcomes of students.
“For the last three years our public schools have improved citywide,” said Joyce Wilkerson, President of the Board of Education. “These improvements wouldn’t have been possible without the District first identifying the key focus areas that are reflected in the Action Plan. While we are proud of our hard-won progress, we are mindful that there is still much work to be done in order to provide our children with the high-quality schools that they deserve.”
The entire Action Plan update can be found online at www.philasd.org/actionplan.