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Many Philadelphia parents want to take advantage of the city’s varied school options but feel they need better information.

The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP) wants to help.

This October, PSP will launch GreatPhillySchools. The goal is to provide parents with a one-stop shop for information and quality ratings on the vast majority of Philadelphia’s District, charter, and private schools, which number close to 500 (see graph).

“Right now, you have many parents who don’t realize the options available to them,” said Mark Gleason, PSP’s executive director. “We’ve taken on the challenge of creating a multimedia resource that allows them to search for almost every school in the city of Philadelphia.”

A 2010 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative found that 42 percent of Philadelphia parents found it hard to get enough information about Philadelphia’s school options. Many said they felt overwhelmed when trying to find the right school for their child.

Gleason said that GreatPhilly-Schools should help parents like Karen Lewis (see cover story).

“To the extent that she’s dissatisfied, or even just curious, she ought to be able to find information about how
[a] school compares to other schools in her neighborhood and throughout the city,” said Gleason.

GreatPhillySchools will include basic data about each school’s location, leadership, and program offerings, as well as ratings on academic performance and safety. Information will be available online at www.greatphillyschools.org and in print.

“We use a number system to say [some] schools are on average better than [other] schools,” said Gleason. “But we have to be clear with parents
– at the end of the day, this is your choice, and it’s about your child, and we’re trying to give you some tools to help.”

The Notebook is a partner in GreatPhillySchools, participating on the advisory board and providing research on high schools and articles on the admission process.

-Benjamin Herold

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