Posted on November 22, 2021
Categories: News from SDP

PHILADELPHIA, PA — The Middle States Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS) has announced that the School District of Philadelphia has earned system-wide accreditation, the gold standard for measuring and advancing school improvement. The entity also approved accreditation for 15 high schools.

Middle States accreditation is a multifaceted evaluation process that schools and school systems voluntarily use to demonstrate they are meeting a defined set of research-based performance standards focused on continuous and District-wide efforts to grow and improve student performance and the District’s capacity to effect that growth.

“We are pleased to receive this formal recognition for the work the School District of Philadelphia is doing to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed. The Middle State Accreditation reaffirms that we are meeting high educational standards and ultimately strengthens our work by providing us the opportunity to examine and improve our processes and procedures,” said Malika Savoy-Brooks, Ed.D., Chief Academic Support Officer of the School District of Philadelphia.

Led by the District’s Office of Academic Supports, individual high schools began seeking MSA-CESS accreditation in 2017. In 2019, the District shifted to a system-wide accreditation, in which MSA recognizes and validates existing organizational and operational systems in schools. During this process, the District receives accreditation simultaneously with its schools. Due to the number of high schools involved, the District will accreditate all schools within a three-group process. Thirty-seven of the 54 District high schools have been accredited, with a goal for all SDP high schools receiving accreditation by 2024.

MSA recognizes that when an entire school system undergoes the process and reviews its organizational and operational systems as one entity rather than a collection of individual schools, the results are much more aligned and allows each school to know its place and responsibility in the objectives of the school district. Through this process each school still gets reviewed and validated so all entities in the district have a solid foundation to move forward.

Seven District High Schools earned new accreditation for seven years:

  • Academy at Palumbo
  • Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush
  • Ben Franklin High School
  • Franklin Learning Center
  • Kensington CAPA
  • Science Leadership Academy @ Beeber
  • West Philadelphia High School

Eight District High Schools earned re-accreditation for another seven years:

  • Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)
  • Kensington Health/Sciences
  • Kensington High School
  • Lincoln High School
  • Parkway West
  • Robeson High School
  • Saul High School
  • Swenson High School

Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the MSA-CESS accreditation is a third-party validation that the District is improving student performance and meeting distinguished standards of excellence. Schools with this accreditation are eligible for certain federal funds. It also is one of the pre-requisites used by the College Board in determining a school’s eligibility to serve as a College Board test center and to offer Advanced Placement courses.

To receive this recommendation, all District offices and 15 high schools had representatives, including employees, students, parents and community members, complete a self-study and provide evidence to support the self-study. Interviews were conducted during the MSA-CESS’s District visit in May 2021. A recommendation for approval was made in June.

The Middle States Association’s protocol, Achieving Excellence System-Wide, provides the direction that a school district seeks to achieve that alignment and the accredited status promotes to the public the outside validation and support the district has for moving the needle towards continuous school improvement and success.