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District to seek feedback on design of school report cards

By Wendy Harris on Jul 29, 2013 11:37 AM

Last year, the School District of Philadelphia revealed that its system for rating schools was faulty and suspended the use of the “School Performance Index,” or SPI. But on Monday, the District will begin a process to develop a new school report card that will not only replace the SPI, but also the school annual reports. District leadership is asking the community to help them decide what will go in the school report card and how it will be designed, and will hold six community meetings to get the process underway.  

The SPI was developed in 2009 under then-Superintendent Arlene Ackerman. Basically, it is a formula – very detailed and considered complicated by many -- that breaks down more than a dozen indicators into a single score from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best. Every public school in the city, including charter schools, is assigned a score. Over the last couple of years, the scores have been used in guiding the District’s decisions about which schools to close and convert into charters, as well as to evaluate requests for charter renewals and expansions.  

Some charter operators have criticized the use of SPI since the beginning, saying that the formula is untrustworthy. When a state-commissioned analysis of results from 2009 to 2011 revealed evidence of widespread cheating at dozens of schools throughout the state, including 53 District schools and three charters in Philadelphia, further suspicion grew among education advocates about the reliability of SPI. Concerns also mounted over whether the District was making major decisions about schools based on bad data.

Like SPI, the school annual reports provide a snapshot of a school’s performance, but use student, teacher, and school data pulled from various sources to create baseline data that is then used to set improvement goals for each school. Each year that data is compared to the previous year’s baseline to measure improvement.

Here is the schedule of the meetings:  

  • Mon., July 29, 5:30 p.m. - School District of Philadelphia Education Center, 440 N. Broad St., Room 1072
  • Wed., July 31, 11 a.m. – McMichael School – West PFRC, 3543 Fairmount Ave.
  • Fri., Aug. 2, 4:30 p.m. – Radio Salvation, 321 W. Sedgley Ave.
  • Mon., Aug. 5, 10 a.m. – School District of Philadelphia Education Center, 440 N. Broad St., Room 1173
  • Tues., Aug. 6, 10 a.m. – Houston Community Center, 8th Street & Snyder Avenue
  • Wed., Aug. 7, 10 a.m. – Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, 1936 N. Judson St.

Alison McDowell, a parent of a child at Masterman who questions the impact the report cards might have, is encouraging parents to attend and has created a public Facebook event where people can sign up. After the meeting, people can join McDowell and other educators at Kelliann’s Bar & Grill around the corner on Spring Garden Street for some education networking.


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Comments (24)

Submitted by ConcernedRoxParent (not verified) on July 29, 2013 12:11 pm
Why bother grading schools when they have been decimated?
Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on July 29, 2013 2:52 pm
Yes, that's the point. Would love it if you could come tonight and share your opinion.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2013 2:44 pm
Submitted by indigo montoya (not verified) on July 29, 2013 2:09 pm
lets make them desinger report cards,vera wang,ralph lauren,donna karen.....etc...the pft and 32bj district 1201 can give back 200,000,000 so the sdp can be trendy.....*** holls
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Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2013 3:04 pm
all hail the democratic process in SDP.....
Submitted by anon (not verified) on July 29, 2013 11:35 pm
feedback wanted. positive only please. inquire within.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 29, 2013 11:38 pm
U R Kidding.? Or your new here? Howz the Extended Stay treating yous? I understand affordable housing is being readied in Kensington. Hang in there.
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on July 29, 2013 3:04 pm
Teachers, here's your chance - Add a principal evaluation, with/broken down into bonafide management skill questions... Like, "How well does the principal listen and follow through on issues important to you?" Add a teacher turnover factor. Add a requirement that more than 25% (how about at least 90%) of parents/caregivers return any survey. Parents rate, "How well does this school meet my child's needs?" Keep the safety question(s).
Submitted by Dave M (not verified) on July 29, 2013 9:00 pm
The grading system is a SHAM. It is designed to promote political agendas.
Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on July 30, 2013 6:49 am
We had a great turn out of parents, teachers, activists and community members last night--well over 40 people during a summer meeting. They had to move to a bigger room! Make sure they have a big room for all these meeting. Attendees were united in agreement that we neither need nor want this new tool; we are suspicious that it will be used to make management decisions to close more schools; and timing is horrible, unless closing more schools was always the overall plan. The consultants preparing this document seems to think that inputs don't matter. That we can take away EVERYTHING from neighborhood schools and still expect accountability (just not from the district and elected leaders who are failing us). Tell them NO! These guys are rushing the job--planning to do a draft of it in six weeks. They had no plans to reach out to students or teachers. This is funded ed-reform folks Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Great Schools Compact is being briefed--but no teachers, no students. It's deplorable. Please go to the meetings and post updates. They planned this for the summer when no one is paying attention. We need to pay attention, and show up, and speak up for your children and teachers. As envisioned this is not a tool that will help anyone trying to teach and trying to learn. We kept them in the hot seat for two hours last night. Please make sure they don't have an easy time in any of the upcoming meetings.
Submitted by LS Teach (not verified) on July 30, 2013 8:20 am
Alison, was there actually an opportunity for ALL people to voice their opinion? Did any principals attend? Did Jerry Jordan and Dr. Hite attend? Who facilitated the discussion? This should be a much more publicized news story, but the major news outlets have not reported anything on the matter.
Submitted by tom-104 on July 30, 2013 8:12 am
There is now a report in the Daily News:
Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on July 30, 2013 9:57 am
Well, those in attendance pretty much redirected the discussion to our many concerns. I think they had a more structured agenda planned, but that quickly went by the wayside. Everyone in the audience did have a chance to speak, and we were pretty much all on the same page. Though I must say things might have played out differently if audience members were not as assertive as we were. The facilitators were two folks from Tembo Consulting who won the contract, and the analytics person from the district, plus a Charter liason, and the head of family and community engagement, also someone taking minutes--not Hite, not Jordan, no one on the SRC, no elected officials. Evidently there have been 4-5 3 hours meetings with principals and district leaders in the past month, but they had not yet developed a template. Only 30 principals from charters and regulars schools combined had participated. As I said, there were no plans before last night's meeting to dialogue with students or teachers--those who would be most impacted by this "tool." Yes, there should be much more publicity. I think there might have been someone from the Notebook there, but nothing had come online as of this morning.
Submitted by concerned citizen (not verified) on July 30, 2013 12:48 pm
Nationally, private providers and right-wing politicians have been manipulating the system for grading schools. See "GOP Donor’s Charter School Got Its Grade Changed"
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on July 30, 2013 8:45 am
Yes, with their track record and obvious agenda to privatize schools, only a fool would believe anything they say. When "The People" have had enough, they'll get tough with this crowd of slithering types, focused on making money any way, any how.
Submitted by John J (not verified) on July 30, 2013 11:55 am
I can only agree with you but it seems that most of "The People" have become too apathetic to really get tough.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on July 30, 2013 11:48 am
John J.----I totally agree with you AS OF NOW. Google Revolution/Change. You can only push so far before there's pushback, at least in the good ole U.S. of A. However, if by chance, the people remain apathetic, despicable, cowardly, punkish, wimpish, and afraid of their own shadows, then we shall deserve what we get, to paraphrase Sir Winston of Churchill.
Submitted by Alison McDowell (not verified) on July 30, 2013 1:44 pm
Notebook--I thought you had someone there last night. Are you going to put some coverage out today? For folks on Twitter search #phillyeducation for live tweets from several members of the audience. I give you credit for covering the event in advance--but that's not the real news here. Some updates--the "report card" project is being paid for out of a $4.5 million dollar grant not to the District, but to the Philadelphia School Partnership--not accountable to anyone, even more so than the SRC. They put $4.3 million into their slush fund to lend a hand with the new Sustainability Workshops, SLA and Hill Freedman School expansions. The remaining $200,000 was used for the report card and another tool--I expect it will be this Universal Application process that will give us "better choices." The District is not the client here. This is not to benefit parents or children. This is motivated by back room dealing and venture philanthropy pure and simple. Interesting, too, that Dell has a spin-off Ed-Fi (look it up) that aggregates student data. It is the platform for the highly-controversial (inBloom) that is now being rejected after rampant concerns over privacy, security, and selling our children's data (look it up). I'm guessing this report card is just a back door way of ushering in Ed-Fi. Dell invests a pittance in this "report card" process and reaps the contract benefits for years to come. Please, please come to one of the next meetings and take the discussion to the next level. If we don't, we'll be in even deeper trouble down the road--as hard as that is to imagine.
Submitted by Eileen Duffey (not verified) on July 30, 2013 2:59 pm
I attended the meeting last evening. Both this article and the Daily News article accurately reflect the tenor of the meeting. An important note in addition to the article above is that the information gathered in these public hearings will be shared at an August 18th meeting of the Philadelphia School Partnership. (The date was mentioned and later the information was retracted.) PSP meetings are not open to the public. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that informed parents will continue to express outrage at public meetings which their input is sought. The remaining meetings should be attended by teachers, parents, and community members who want to understand more fully what is happening to public education today in Philadelphia. Here is the link to today's Daily News article. Please read the comments.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on July 30, 2013 4:46 pm
Any meetings concerning pulic school dealings should be open to the public. The Philadelphia School Partnership is a dirty dealing organization that obviously has to hide its agenda.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on July 30, 2013 3:25 pm
Thank you Eileen and Alison.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on January 28, 2015 2:08 am

I was a attende in metting and according to me the meet was really good, got to know many new peoples and learned a lot's of stuff Thanks. Whatsapp for samsung  and do login at

Submitted by fredjoltes (not verified) on March 16, 2015 3:46 am

Like SPI, the school annual reports provide a snapshot of a school’s performance, but use student, teacher, and school data pulled from various sources to create baseline data that is then used to set improvement goals for each school. Each year that data is compared to the previous year’s baseline to measure improvement. does nutrisystem work

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