In 2003, 160 Philadelphia schools were labeled with the lowest possible status under the No Child Left Behind law - "Corrective Action II." Schools in that category, having failed to meet performance targets for five years in a row, were supposed to develop a plan, with parent and staff input, for management restructuring. This could mean taking steps like replacing the teaching staff, charter conversion, or privatization of management.
After test score gains last spring, the number of schools in Corrective Action II is down to 72 (all but two of those for the second year). And after a protracted silence about what restructuring plans were in the works at the District or state level, the School District has announced a new program affecting the 72 schools in Corrective Action II status.
These schools will be getting "supports and interventions" on four different levels, according to Chief Academic Officer Gregory Thornton. The first three levels are:
- support from regional offices,
- "focused interventions" from the District's central office, and
- "schoolwide assistance teams" that go out and meet directly with school staff.
Thornton explained that the fourth level, called "Corrective Action and Review," will involve major changes reserved for "schools that have not responded to these other interventions." The Corrective Action and Review initiative will be led by Deputy Chief Academic Officer Creg Williams, who now heads the District's high school office.
Plans will be developed by a team including central office administrators, other educators, union representatives, and District legal staff, Thornton said.
Noting that many of the Corrective Action II schools have been troubled for years, Thornton added, "We're not waiting for the state to tell us what to do with these schools. We have a moral obligation to the students at those schools." Of the 72 schools now in Corrective Action II, 29 were previously privatized or restructured in 2002 as part of the state takeover.
Seventy additional District schools are categorized as "Making Progress" but will be back in Corrective Action II status if they fail to meet performance targets in 2005.