Goals and Guardrails
We believe that education is the key to fostering equity in society, and that education itself must be equitable, especially in a city with a high rate of poverty and in a school district with a majority of students of color and many with special needs. Educational equity means giving each student what they need to reach their fullest potential. This means that some students will require more support and resources than others; and we need to be prepared to meet those needs.
This work is urgent. As a Board, this means our agenda must drive systemic change and dismantle racist practices in a system that far too often has gone unfunded and unchanged. This also means focusing our priorities on student learning and ensuring every child has the resources they need to thrive in our classrooms.
We believe that if we move forward with deep intention and center our work through the lens of racial equity, then we will empower all our students to achieve success. For the Board, the fundamental way to accomplish this is through setting clear expectations for what our students must know and be able to do and then rigorously monitor our progress toward achieving our goals over the next five years. We will not accept sustained disparities in student performance and will commit to ensuring that all of our students succeed.
Vision: Every student reads on or above grade level.
Description: Reading is a bedrock skill for success in school, college, the workplace and life.
Vision: Every student performs on or above grade level in math.
Description: Students need a strong foundation in mathematics in order to access higher levels of learning in both the middle and high school grades and to succeed in diverse careers.
College & Career
College & Career
Vision: Every student graduates ready for college and careers.
Description: Every student needs to have the core academic knowledge and opportunity of experience that will prepare them for post-secondary success.
Guardrail 1: Welcoming and Supportive Schools
Guardrail 2: Enriching and Well-rounded School Experiences
Every school will be a safe, welcoming and healthy place where our students, staff and community want to be and learn each day.
This means that our schools will be:
- Environmentally safe and clean; and
- Spaces with inclusive climates that provide students with access to robust social, emotional and mental health supports.
Every student will have a well-rounded education with co-curricular opportunities, including arts and athletics, integrated into the school experience.
Guardrail 3: Partnering with Parents/Family Members
Guardrail 4: Addressing Racist Practices
Every parent and guardian will be welcomed and encouraged to be partners in their child’s school community.
Our students’ potential will not be limited by practices that perpetuate systemic racism and hinder student achievement.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will these Goals & Guardrails be monitored?
- The School District has developed leading indicators for each Goal & Guardrail that will indicate progress over a five-year period.
- Each month the District will update the Board and present Progress Monitoring Reports that will include:
- Comparative data for on-track, near-track and off-track groups
- An evaluation of performance with documentation
- Where the District is off track, the Progress Monitoring Report will include next steps for improving performance
How can people support this work and what is their role?
- Parents and PTA’s/SAC’s can be informed and share information about Goals & Guardrails with their neighbors and networks and follow the progress and monitoring of Goals & Guardrails for the next 5 years.
- Parents and guardians are encouraged to be partners in their child’s school community.
- District leaders, school principals and teachers can develop strategies that support Goals & Guardrails.
How will the District/Board be held accountable to achieve these Goals & Guardrails?
- The District is setting incremental targets for achieving each Goal & Guardrail that must be met each year for the next five years and is responsible for monitoring progress toward achieving them.
- The District is also responsible for creating strategies or next steps when Goals & Guardrails are not being achieved.
- The Board is responsible for monitoring progress toward achieving the Goals & Guardrails every month.
Why is the Board relying on standardized testing to measure achievement?
We believe it is important for us and parents to have ways to know and understand what our students know and are able to do. Additionally, we believe that parents should have information on how their child’s school compares with other schools.
In order to collect this information, we need objective measures that will help us understand what changes we need to make to support student learning.
- The assessment is not intended to measure student potential or success.
Using standardized testing is an objective way to monitor the school district’s progress;
- Standardized testing is uniform for all students and it is taken by all students across the District;
- Standardized testing focuses on the basic skills that all students need to master; and
- The Pennsylvania Department of Education uses the same testing to determine if we are serving our students.
What do these goals and guardrails mean for charter schools in Philadelphia?
Charter schools have their own governing boards that establish the specific goals for each individual character school. However, as the authorizer of Philadelphia charter schools, the Board believes that these Goals & Guardrails express the conditions and outcomes that must be present in every school, district or charter operated, in order to educate its students. The Board will bring this lens to its work authorizing charter schools and cares that all public schools are appropriately serving Philadelphia students.
How will the budget be guided by these Goals and Guardrails?
Once the Goals and Guardrails are adopted, they become the framework by which we will hold the District accountable. This means that the Board will expect the Superintendent to bring forward a budget that is aligned with the priorities that we have set in our Goals and Guardrails.
How will the Board of Education fund the Goals & Guardrails initiative?
Adequate funding is an issue for the School District of Philadelphia. We do need funding, and we hope to convey to our funding sources (the city and the state) how important this work around Goals & Guardrails is and what a positive impact it will have on student achievement.
- Recently, the University of Pennsylvania pledged $100 million to the School District over ten years to remediate environmental hazards, including asbestos and lead. This funding will directly support Guardrail #1 to have schools that are safe, clean and welcoming environments. So this donation is an excellent example of a funding source that directly supports our Goals & Guardrails initiative.