The School District of Philadelphia
Office of Communications
440 N. Broad Street, Suite 301~Philadelphia, PA 19130-4015~(215)400-4040

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Lee Whack
215-313-8849



02/15/2017

SCHOOL DISTRICT SHARES STRATEGIES AND INVESTMENTS TO IMPROVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN AT SEVEN LOW PERFORMING SCHOOLS

District also announces increased focus on comprehensive high schools

Philadelphia, PA - Last October, as part of The School District of Philadelphia’s work of creating great schools close to where children live, the District identified 11 schools that required immediate academic attention and additional support so students attending those schools could have high-quality learning opportunities moving forward.

“Every school has strengths and challenges, and every school community is unique, but the goal for all children and all schools is the same: to ensure all children are able to learn and to succeed,” said Dr. William R. Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, seven schools will begin putting into effect exciting and ambitious academic intervention plans.  These interventions are based on each school's specific needs, with the goal of fostering rapid academic improvement and creating great schools close to where children live.”

These seven schools each will receive investments of up to $1 million to implement plans for rigorous academic and instructional focus.  They will keep and hire the best teachers, and work to increase engagement with school communities and parents.

As part of this process, several schools took the lead in developing their own improvement plans.  Bartram, Harding, Hartranft, and McDaniel each presented strong, individualized academic improvement plans that were approved by the District for implementation.

“The School District of Philadelphia continues to be a place of collaboration”, said LaChante Collier-Bacon, principal at McDaniel. “With the help of our teachers, students and school community we worked hard to develop a school-based plan that focused on providing every student with the knowledge and tools they need to read passionately, think critically, problem-solve consistently, and communicate effectively.”

Three other schools (Blankenburg, Heston and John Marshall) will enter the district’s Turnaround Network.  These schools were selected for the Turnaround Network because it provides an intensive support structure and strong focus on improving school leadership, building instructional capacity, and establishing a continuous improvement process. The goal for these schools is to move out of both the School Progress Report Intervene category and the Turnaround Network in three to five years.

“The District’s Turnaround Model is exciting for our school community,” said Kelly Parker, principal at Blankenburg School.  “This academic intervention will bring with it a commitment to improved instructional and instructional programming, added investments that will show our students and their families that Blankenburg is headed in the right direction, and smaller class sizes in grades K-2.”

The School District is also announcing an effort that will focus on the city's comprehensive neighborhood high schools, which enroll fifty percent of current district high school students.  The four high schools (Ben Franklin, Overbrook, Fels, Kensington HSA) identified last October for in-depth review, will become participants in this effort.

“This is exciting news and it is yet another way the School District is looking to innovate and change the way we talk about education in our city,” said Overbrook Principal Yvette Jackson.    

“Consistent with Anchor Goal 1 of our Action Plan, our high schools must provide opportunities for students to become prepared for college, career and life,” added Hite.  “Our initial efforts to improve the high school experience will be a focus on the transition to and through 9th grade.  The District will engage active and interested stakeholders who have been involved in college and career readiness efforts and create new opportunities to implement high school improvement plans.”

In the 2017-2018 school year, the four previously identified high schools will also receive added investments and additional resources intended to foster academic improvement that will better prepare students for college and career.  The District will announce further details on those initial  investments and next steps in the plan to focus on comprehensive high schools in the coming months.

Schools entering the Turnaround Network in the 2017-2018 school year:

  • Blankenburg Elementary
  • Heston Elementary
  • John Marshall Elementary
High School Model Focus:
  • Ben Franklin
  • Overbrook
  • Fels
  • Kensington HSA
School-based improvement plans beginning in the 2017-2018 school year:
  • Bartram High School
  • Harding Middle School
  • Hartranft Elementary
  • McDaniel Elementary
Bartram High School: A technology-driven, blended learning model with targeted small group instruction and collaborative and engaging student projects. School improvement areas include:
  • Increase student achievement in math and literacy  
  • Increase instructional rigor and student engagement 
  • Increase the graduation rate
  • Stabilize and increase student enrollment
Harding Middle School: Technology and personalized learning to accelerate student achievement.School improvement areas include:
  • Increase student achievement in math and literacy 
  • Increase student attendance 
Hartranft Elementary: Accelerated student achievement through consistent use of small group instruction, reduced class sizes, and dedicated staff focused on increasing attendance and better supporting bilingual families.  School improvement areas include:
  • Increase student achievement in math and literacy 
  • Increase student attendance 
McDaniel Elementary: Accelerated student achievement through high-quality instructional practices, better support families experiencing attendance challenges, and resources to serve the needs of students in two separate buildings. School improvement areas include:
  • Increase student achievement in math, literacy, and scienceIncrease instructional rigor and student engagement
  • Increase student attendance
  • Additional organizational support to better operate a two-building campus
Background information and overall findings:
  • In October 2016 the District announced that none of the 11 schools would be closed and none of the schools will become a Renaissance Charter as a part of this year’s process.
  • This year, before any decisions were made, the 11 school communities were asked for input through a series of school visits; community, school staff and leadership meetings; parent focus groups; and stakeholder feedback sessions.  
  • School climate was the highest rated area with respectful, positive relationships found in all 11 schools.
  • Systems and structures were in place to support smooth school operations that are helpful to learning.
  • Quality of instruction was the lowest rated area.  Fifteen to 25 classrooms were visited at each school and a general lack of rigor and academic objectives for students was observed.
  • Communication with families needed improvement.  Parents expressed the need for more outreach regarding academics. Many families were not sure how they could be more involved in the school and their child’s education. 
More information can be found at www.philasd.org/greatschools.

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