School District of Philadelphia Shares Update on Superintendent’s Approach to Improving Outcomes for All Students
July 1, 2022
PHILADELPHIA, PA — As part of his first 100-Day priorities, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Tony B. Watlington, Sr., Ed.D., has laid out a robust set of strategic, intentional and collaborative actions to learn about the District comprehensively and quickly, and inform its work going forward.
“My purpose and moral obligation to all Philadelphians is to improve outcomes for all of our diverse learners and achieve the Board’s Goals & Guardrails, such that the School District of Philadelphia is positioned to be one of the nation’s fastest improving urban districts,” said Superintendent Watlington.
Work during the superintendent’s first year will occur in three phases, which together will lay a strong foundation for transformative growth. The three phases are:
Phase 1: Listening & Learning Sessions (June-September 2022)
Phase 2: Transition Team (mid-July – September 2022)
Phase 3: Strategic Plan Development (October 2022 – spring 2023)
“This type of transition support is used by leaders across all industries and when you have a district as large and as complex as the School District of Philadelphia, transition support is intended to provide an even deeper understanding of the individuals, families and communities this district serves,” said Joyce Wilkerson, Board President of the School District of Philadelphia Board of Education. “With the assistance of these advisors and the local leaders that will comprise the transition team, Dr. Watlington will be able to develop a plan that builds on Goals & Guardrails, and best delivers on this district’s promise of raising student achievement and positioning our children to compete globally.”
Dr. Watlington has engaged in a contract with Dr. Shawn Joseph (former Met Life Principal of the Year in Maryland, former school superintendent in Tennessee and Delaware, and co-leads the American Association of School Administrators (AASA)/Howard University Urban Superintendent Academy) and Dr. Betty Morgan (an accomplished superintendent, former National Superintendent of the Year, former Chief Academic Officer of Baltimore Schools and Chief Education Advisor to America’s Promise Alliance) to provide assistance in six key areas:
- implementing the three phases of work
- bringing together a “big tent” of local and national experts, teachers, principals, parents, students and others in a structured way to support our work
- connecting us to other urban school districts that are making academic progress, in partnership with the AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendent’s Academy
- assessing our history, assets and needs
- An in depth review of our core business of teaching and learning to quickly identify root causes for why:
- only 32% of our 3rd graders are proficient or advanced on the ELA PSSA,
- only 22% of 3rd-8th graders are proficient or advanced on the math PSSA, and
- what we must do to increase our 80% 4-year graduation rate and achieve the Board’s Goals and Guardrails
- ensuring systems coherence, meaning that the work we do going forward is focused, coherent and aligned
The consulting contract with Joseph and Associates was approved in May 2022 and allows for “up to” $450,000 in incremental payments to pay for a wide variety of services as needed to support this work. It covers the services of:
- 100-Day priorities support (not to exceed $10,000)
- Senior leadership assessment and coaching (not to exceed $113,250)
- Transition Team development, implementation and reporting which includes 10 Philadelphia-based (40%) and national consultants, with Drs. Joseph and Morgan as the lead consultants (not to exceed $150,000)
- Consultant support (not to exceed $82,000)
- Administrative and board retreats (not to exceed $12,000)
- Comprehensive strategic planning service (not to exceed $75,000)
The School District will receive regular invoices as work deliverables are completed over the course of the fiscal year, as part of our normal process.
“I intentionally made this a broad contract to allow for me to have access to an array of external resources, as needed, as I work to assess every facet of the School District of Philadelphia,” said Watlington. “Ultimately, we may not end up spending the full “up to” amount of the contract. District staff may be able to take on some of this scope of work if capacity allows as they continue the good work of readying our District for a successful new school year, starting Monday, August 29th.”
About the Transition Team
A Transition Team is comprised of a group of local leaders and national experts who assemble in sub-committees to address specific education challenges and apply the latest research and best practices to provide short-term and long-term recommendations for progress in those areas. Dr. Watlington’s Team will be co-chaired by two respected Philadelphia leaders and comprised of five sub-committees that are aligned to the areas outlined in the 100-Day Priorities. Each sub-committee will be co-led by a School District leader and a non-SDP educational leader with expertise in that specific area. Committee members will include District staff as well as Philadelphia educational, city, business, non-profit and grassroots leaders. The work will span several months, with each committee generating findings and recommendations that will be shared in a comprehensive report to the Board of Education this fall and will inform the development of a strategic plan in spring 2023.
More information on the Transitisition Teams will be shared in the coming weeks.