A Welcome Back Message from Superintendent Watlington
September 5, 2023
Dear School District of Philadelphia Families,
Today, hundreds of school leaders, thousands of teachers and all of the School District of Philadelphia’s support staff, are ringing the bell on school year 2023-2024. I could not be more excited to welcome students back to classrooms. And I am extremely proud of the work we have done together this summer to help students and families have an excellent experience in schools, in classrooms, and when engaging with the District as a whole. As we begin the year, you can expect a number of new and exciting things that we believe will be beneficial to you and your children:
Renewed Vision for the School District of Philadelphia
This past spring, I introduced Accelerate Philly – the District’s new strategic plan and our roadmap for serving students, staff and the community over the next five years. The plan ushers in a new era for the District by establishing a renewed mission, vision and theory of action, as well as laying out 62 strategic actions that we will take over the next five years. We are coming out of the gate quickly, and launching 37 of those actions this school year. I invite you to visit the Strategic Plan website to view the plan in its entirety, but in addition to some of the strategies that have already been implemented (including the new websites and instructional resources explained below), others that you can expect to be in development this year include:
- Development of a Facilities Master Plan to significantly improve the safety and efficiency of our school buildings.
- Improved personal safety measures at schools including expanded safe pathways, new security cameras, and minimally invasive weapons detection technology at middle schools.
- Establishment of a Parent & Guardian advisory group that engages regularly with me and my leadership.
- Phased-in implementation of high impact tutoring to help accelerate academic achievement.
- Launch of a two-way communications system with multilingual capabilities to improve communications with families and the community.
New Core Instructional Resources
Throughout the spring and summer we have shared that starting this school year, the District is implementing new high-quality, standards-aligned K-12 math resources that are designed to complement our math curriculum. Thanks in large part to the feedback provided by many District parents, we selected Imagine Learning LLC/Illustrative Mathematics as the vendor that will provide the new resources. Teachers, principals and hundreds of parents have been trained and oriented around these new resources, and I cannot wait to see them in practice this year. Learn more by visiting our curriculum website.
The District homepage and all academic and student support websites have been updated to be clearer and more user-friendly. Page designs have been streamlined into a consistent template, page content has been re-written to promote understanding, and student and family hubs have been added – all with the goal to help you find the information you need more quickly. Make sure to check out the site at www.philasd.org.
Of course the best way to start off a new school year is to show up on the first day! Daily school attendance is critical for students’ academic success and social-emotional well-being. Last school year, teacher and student attendance increased and the number of student dropouts decreased. Let’s keep that positive momentum going in SY 2023-2024!
Indeed, today marks the beginning of a very exciting future for the School District of Philadelphia community – one in which the children of Philadelphia will be adequately prepared to imagine and realize any future they desire. It is a grand vision, but very achievable if we continue to pursue it together!
Tony B. Watlington Sr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia