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Poorly rated: Philadelphia dominates new Pa. 'priority' schools list

By Dale Mezzacappa on Oct 8, 2013 04:57 PM

Not surprisingly, Philadelphia schools account for more than half the schools flagged as among the lowest performing on the Pennsylvania Department of Education's new school rating system for 2012-13.

Among about 90 schools statewide designated as "priority" -- meaning that they are rated among the lowest 5 percent in the state -- 47 are Philadelphia District-run schools, and nine others are charter schools located in the city. 

The rating system combines a set of academic and climate factors to calculate a score for a school between 0 and 100.

Among the District schools on the "priority" list, however, 13 closed this year. Three others changed their status. Pastorius and Alcorn were converted to charters under the Renaissance Schools initiative, and Roosevelt changed from a middle school to a K-8 school. One of the charter schools also closed.

In the state's new School Performance Profiles, designations based on achievement were given to all schools that qualify for federal Title I funds, which are allotted to schools that are low-income and low-achieving. The entire Philadelphia School District is categorized as Title I.

The new profiles replace the system for evaluating schools required by the federal No Child Left Behind law. Under NCLB, schools eligible for Title I with chronically low achievement were targeted for interventions that included closure or reconstitution (replacing all or part of the staff) or turning the school over to a charter operator. The goal of NCLB was to have all students proficient in reading and math by 2014.

In the last year, most states, including Pennsylvania, have received waivers from the law -- which is long overdue for revision and reauthorization. In the process Pennsylvania, like other states, created a new evaluation system and a different set of interventions for helping low-performing Title I schools improve.

The state's primary intervention is contracting with eight to 10 "academic recovery liaisons" to split their time among the "priority" schools, assessing their needs and working on ways to help them improve, according to acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq. The total cost of the liaisons is about $800,000, she said.

In addition, Dumaresq said, the state has online resources available to schools, including "curriculum maps," "learning resources," and pedagogical strategies to help schools keep up with the new Common Core academic standards.

PDE will also be holding a workshop for principals of the schools in December.

The schools in Philadelphia are now operating with personnel shortages -- including a lack of nurses, counselors and librarians -- but the intervention does not include providing more resources to schools. PDE will study resource-challenged schools across the state that are doing well in an effort to share best practices, Dumaresq said.

Under NCLB, the low-performing schools were given designations including "warning," "school improvement," and "corrective action." The new designations are "reward--high achievement," "reward--high progress," "no designation," "focus," and "priority."

In addition to the "priority" schools, 91 others in Philadelphia were designated as "focus," meaning they are in the lowest 10 percent in the state under the new rating system. 

A handful of District schools were in the "reward" category, most of them special admission schools. The rest were in the middle, receiving no designation one way or the other.

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Comments (45)

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2013 8:17 pm
This is not rocket science for high schools. Put all the "achievers" in magnets, add layers with city wide admit and charters and guess who is left in neighborhood high schools? No wonder neighborhood high schools are "priority." If all neighborhood high schools were like Northeast High School with an internal magnet program and a range of other programs to attract a broad range of students, neighborhood high schools wouldn't be sinking. It is not different than structural racism - it is intentional.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on October 8, 2013 9:49 pm
You're right. In addition, if you created a list of family income for each SDP school's catchment area, I am one thousand percent certain that our lowest per capita families would be a perfect match for our lowest performing schools. The degree of racial segregation would also be more pronounced among the lowest performing schools. This is not news. It seems to be such old news that we are quite comfortable ignoring its significance.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2013 10:20 pm
FRACKING SDP. PFT "Combat fatigue" is what I think the apathy we're witnessing is called. People who care, who care enough to stay in the city, teach in the schools, fight city fires, patrol city streets, etc., care about a lot more than that. They care about their families, themselves, civil rights, privacy infringement, veterans, senior citizens, the earth, animal rights, the list goes on....but all need balance and Philly teachers have faced undue adversity since state takeover a decade ago. Set up to be worn down. They need advocates. Jerry Jordan is not inspiring to regroup and COMBAT the undermining/ FRACKING of corporate forces at work at high and deep levels on Philadelphia's public education system right now. Randi Weingarten, god bless her, arrested again tonight in DC, and Diane Ravitch penancing her published heart out in defence of public education while she still can! Who have we not heard a peep from? Not a single weigh-in on what is happening in Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans? Our President of CHANGE, Barack Obama. Gimme Michelle Rhee and Gleason what have you. OBAMA has betrayed urban schools.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 8, 2013 11:28 pm
You got a raise and no layoffs with the stimulus in 2009. We got a tax increase. Several. Now is the hangover to that party.
Submitted by Morrie Peters (not verified) on October 8, 2013 10:52 pm
Randi Weingarten was barnstorming with Duncan before our current Sec. of Ed. was exposed as a Board member of the Broad Foundation...what a profound and utter disappointment our President has been...I worked countless hours on his 2008 campaign and am so disheartened by how shallow the comprehesion of the place public education has in a true true democracy:...I think I'll say a prayer now...good night...John Boy:-)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 2:45 am
True hard to find advocates currently on teachers side. The self-serving politicians like Corbett, Nutter,etc. and the state legislature surely aren't. Pres.Obama needs to speak up and do something about it too. He can start by getting rid of Arne Duncan. He's awful! In addition, The AFT and PFT have become soooo spineless that they exert no power, more ineffective than ever and still living in their own world. Unbeknownst to the leaders of the PFT as well as AFT the union has become so out of touch and unable to resolve issues, negotiate or inspire members. What is unbelievable is the PFT officers don't get it and live in a dream world just hanging on to their cake jobs, until they are past retirement, when most members want them to be ousted and get a whole new slate of leaders with new ideas and strategies before it is totally too late-if not already. The PFT leaders deserve a large chunk of the blame since they let things go unanswered and have been very lax in enforcing the contract for years.Pice by piece the contract wqs chipped away.Seniority is already been violated with the PFT's knowledge and no action,new employees paying into health care that is not in the contract but the District implemented that anyway, I could go on and on. Anyone living in reality can see and should have saw the SDP will only comply by legal terms and not do anything through discussion or kindness of their heart nowadays. The SDP decision makers are a cold-blooded group of people. Any contract they sign they rapidly will breach as soon as they sign the Collective Bargaining Agreement. You can't trust dealing with the devil (District), who are sneaky, dishonest and noncompliant. A grassroots effort needs to be more aggressive quickly and remove the ineffective PFT and hopefully nationally AFT leadership. And put the claws into the District and reign them back in making them accountable (SRC, HITE) for the disgraceful way they run an education system. The SDP and PFT cozy relationship seems to be completely over this contract. Beware the contract will be scary when presented for a vote and the PFT will blame ACT 46. BTW,is ACT 46 still lingering here in Philly with no one with any balls to fight it legally?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:51 am
As Joe K. always said----------So what are WE going to do about it. Complaining over and over and over and......................... is NOT getting anything done. We need to fight this openly, loudly and with solidarity. People Power.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 7:27 am
S*** is going to hit fan before Friday's (seniority based) leveling is processed, maybe before end of day? Coincidentally PFT "town hall" tomorrow night at 6 PM.....hang on!
Submitted by Anon (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:21 am
Seniority based? Ha! I was informed by my principal that I am being moved out, however 2 others on my list (SocSt) who are BELOW me are being retained. PFT's response was "be thankful you still have a position at all." And they wonder why solidarity is nonexistent.
Submitted by linda (not verified) on October 9, 2013 12:05 pm
how is that? you have less building seniority?....are you not certified for your subject?.....are the other two people certified for more than SS? ....senority has been let go this fall for rehires to the district but not for anything else. There must be more to this other than you just leaving Linda K.
Submitted by Anon (not verified) on October 9, 2013 12:21 pm
The justification 440 gave the principal was that the others 2 teachers are duals while I am not. Both are below me on all seniority (system & building). None of the slots are split positions, they are all straight SocSt. The principal is not happy. He wants to retain me, to the point that he offered to give up other positions instead. He was told that that would not happen. So much for allowing principals the autonomy to select their own staff. 2 members of the PFT executive board basically told me to pound sand. As most of us have figured out, we're on our own. Jerry and his pals are not protecting us, and they haven't been for a few years now.
Submitted by linda (not verified) on October 9, 2013 1:43 pm
I see and am sorry. I take comfort in that you are wanted by your principal and it is not a personal or in classroom matter. I wanted to leave my old school but building and district senority had me stay while others got to go to schools that they really enjoyed. We were told repeatedly by our supervisors to get a second cert asap for the last three years. Some people opted not to do so [some have doctorate degrees, senior career, financial obligations for family etc and just could not see doing this] I hope that when you leave or where ever you go will be a good place. You are not alone. Many teachers have been forced transferred and others will still face that situation due to $$$ and what the SDP figures it can get teachers to do, but with NCLB it is now law that every teacher is required to be certified in every subject that he or she teaches save for the coverage periods. I know in that my former prinicpal had me and about four others doing math everyday and none of us were certified to teach the subject. She got around it with Victory as our school leadership saying that we were using the scripted math do teach the subject. I wrote a letter to Victory and the SDP citing that while I would do as told, this was unacceptable and I would as a parent, not want anybody teaching math, scripted or not, who was not certified. It leaves too many loopholes for the teacher to elect not to di his or her best. Guess what, none of the four of us had to do that the next year. Are you are able to file a right to return? if so, then do that because you never know what will happen in the future in the SDP. Best wishes Linda K.
Submitted by linda (not verified) on October 9, 2013 1:32 pm
sorry I meant do his or her best. Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 6:45 pm
You are so right with realizing you are on your own. The union allows way to many things to slide by the wayside when it comes to individual members rights. The contract isn't worth the paper its written on.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:07 pm
Is there a deadline for giving teachers notice? Or can layoffs continue to happen throughout year?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:18 pm
According to the CBA (contract) the District should not layoff during the school year and supposed to give you 60 days notice when a layoff occurs. However, the District lately has done what the hell they want and getting away with it. If you contact the PFT staff you will hear the same old,tired story, like lucky you have a job, what can we do, there is a need for that, we talked to them about it but wouldn't listen to us, etc., etc., etc.All lame reasons. Stop PFT and arbitrate, go to court, strike, have sit-ins, civil disobedience, (ask Randi Weingarten about that -apparently she is the expert with her arrests lately) but do something and cease this passive crap.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:00 pm
440 tells you anythhing does not mean they are adhering to the laws or union contract.You should be retained at your current school despite the dual cert. stuff.The District don't use the dual certs in many cases like in your school. The position code ID # they are working under A887500-soc. st. only and A287000-Mid -Level Citizenship, which 7-12 soc st certification quialifies too. The District did not create a new position ID number or description for dual certified teachers so should follow what it reads in the Public School Code and CBA.Which specifies you are quailified and use your bldg. ,system seniority under applicable soc. st. certification. File a grievance,(demand it from PFT) to make sure you get this on paper for, hopefully, when we oust current PFT leaders and get officials there that work for their members by doing what it states in the CBA you will get what is due.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 8:01 pm
I am certified in more than one subject, have tenure and my Level II. But could still be out and I've been in my bldg for a while! There's no seniority or loyalty!!!!!!!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:41 pm
Why would you be out unless someone has greater bldg. seniority? That loss of seniority is strictly for the rehires at this time and what the PFT is fighting to keep out of the next contract. Has your administration told you something different? Linda K.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:49 pm
Yes, that we have too many teachers and someone has to go. Be it English, Soc St, Sciences, or Languages ( French or Spanish).
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:19 pm
Yes, that we have too many teachers and someone has to go. Be it English, Soc St, Sciences, or Languages ( French or Spanish).
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 8:41 pm
I was told by the union we still have jobs, but somewhere else in the district.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:52 pm
Talk about the Federal Government being shutdown the PFT leaders have been shutdown for about a decade. No matter what the inept PFT Executive Board leaders told you-they are wrong. File a grievance but honestly, it won't do much because the District uses them as toilet paper currently and the PFT doesn't execute them. The PFT will file them to try to shut member up while they collect dust. The District is VIOLATING the contract daily with new issues. Seniority has been trampled on all around. Don't think the SDP is just doing it with laid off people. They may start there but will use their tentacles to spread out and utilize it with forced transfers,etc eventually. BTW, the District did not get the legal authority from the legislature,yet,to approve the violation of seniority. You remember the contract is supposed to be status quo same as before and it does not say eliminate seniority. It is a state Statute as well as in the CBA. All members need to unite and take back the PFT union first then the radical District. They make a laughing stock of the leaders of the PFT and ultimately members. Makes Nutter look a fool for allowing it in the city he is the mayor of.We all know Corbett could careless he is making the state a disaster. Email the leaders at PFT,email address below: Jordan will give members the BS about Act 46 on Thurs. conference call. More wishy - washy,pillow talk nonsense with no gains made and as usual nothing done.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 8:01 pm
Does anyone know the mechanics of how the leveling-associated forced transfers will work? We are losing a position in my department and I am at the bottom of the list, but the principal said he was not told exactly how or when I and several other teachers being force transferred would be reassigned.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:54 pm
This is all too scary. I am a forced transfer and am now at a school that I love. Is it possible that I might lose my position because of leveling?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:30 pm
You may want to reach out to teachers at . Apparently 5 teachers at A. Vare/Washington are being transferred due to low enrollment. As of now, they do not know to where but are to pack everything by tomorrow. I think they were just told today. Why the low enrollment? Mastery opened a charter between the closed Vare and Washington at the beginning of this school year - Thomas Elementary at 814 Bigler St. in South Philly. Just sayin'.
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 11:48 pm
The "shock and awe" created by Hite/Khin/SRC/Gleason/Nutter is to dismantle public schools. I don't blame families - schools have been stripped to the bone. Charters have plenty of funding - especially the charter companies like Mastery and Universal. This is the goal - get rid of unionized teachers. De-professionalize teaching. Make it as profitable for the few as possible. It is the "Walmarting" of public schools.
Submitted by Joe Ken. (not verified) on October 10, 2013 11:08 am
I swear the above is NOT my post but it's EXACTLY what I've been spouting off about for 3 years. It's ALL tied together to make Public Schools--The Real ones---so dangerous and ridiculous, that parents will think charters are the savior, coming to rescue their children. Kill livable wages and benefits and other forms of pesky overhead. I read the above post and had to respond. Before I go---Penny and Kenny sitting in a tree...........................Birds of a feather indeed. What Crap !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:21 am
"resourced-challenged schools" Keep your ears peeled for this one in Philly as Hite and the SD continue to justify replacing professionals with volunteers and "community partners".
Submitted by Teacher in Philly (not verified) on October 10, 2013 8:09 am
Nutter, Corbett and SRC rely on replacing professionals with volunteers and community partners. Exactly why I refuse to volunteer/ put in extra hours that isn't paid or part of my job description. Otherwise it's another form of scab-ism and hurts our profession. Once the contract is signed to the membership's satisfaction I'll be back and helping every way possible.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:07 am
MLK H.S. - School District, Foundations/Dwight Evans, Promise Academy for 2 years... no upward movement, no progress... same old,same old!!!
Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on October 9, 2013 11:05 am
And no one is asking where all the Title I funds went all these years? I doubt they went to "union busting". End the Title I funds, and you can end the union busting - easy answer.
Submitted by garth (not verified) on October 9, 2013 11:18 am
As a parent with a child in a magnet school, I think everybody should understand that this situation hurts the magnet schools too. They're pulling resources from all the magnets to get extra resources into the really bad schools. I don't think it's fair, and it's be going on like that since Vallas was head of the PSD. Can't we try to get more resources into all the schools?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 12:02 pm
Good to see the charter turnover at Gratz, Olney & Audenreid is working out well for those kids. Wouldn't want the district to waste any money. Oh wait, they are all on that list...
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 1:08 pm
Audenreid is kicking out students in their catchment ... Why are they allowed to refuse to enroll or kick out students when they are suppose to be a neighborhood school?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 2:53 pm
Because Penny Nixon is in charge
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 4:11 pm
First, let's address her correctly "Dr Penny Nixon". Yes she's in charge and she's doing a great job. All her schools will shine. She left at a great time. Philadelphia is in shambles and she's moved on to greener and better pastures. Good job Dr Nixon...keep up the good work and do what you need to do for Universal success.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 5:04 pm
DR. Hite says advanced degrees don't matter.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 7:39 pm
exactly. He thinks they're a Penny a Dozen.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 7:05 pm
They don't matter in School District of Philadelphia but fortunately, they matter elsewhere and that's where she is "elsewhere". Fortunately for her she saw the writing on the wall.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 9:33 pm
Yes, she did leave at a good time, but sad that her name is attached to scandal---cheating. Personally, I wish her the best.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 8:31 pm
There. You admit it, Penny. FORTUNEately for YOU.....nobody else. If only you really had remained anonymous, SDP would be 'elsewhere" right now, no doubt.
Submitted by Timothy Boyle on October 9, 2013 8:23 pm
For what it's worth here are some more numbers to go with the 4th graph 13 schools on the list closed, Douglas, Fairhill, Fulton, Germantown, L.P Hill, Kinsey, Lamberton, Pepper, Reynolds, Smith, MH Stanton, University City, Vaux Alcorn and Pastorious were Renaissance-ed Barry, Bryant, Cayuga, Edison, McMichael and Strawberry Mansion were all newly designated Promise Academies. (Mansion and Edison for 14-15) Penn Treaty also changed grade spans to 6-9 13 Of the 33 receiving schools that received students from the 13 closed schools on this list are also priority schools, not including schools with status change (Pastorious, Penn Treaty, Roosevelt)
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 9, 2013 10:55 pm
After listening to a counselor describe the horrendous conditions the few remaining counselors face, the SRC voted to spend $4,259,115 for Universal Screeners for Response to Instruction and Intervention from Pearson Learning and Renaissance Learning. Pearson would be this company:
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on October 10, 2013 9:04 am
The reason most of the Renaissance schools are on the list is because they get SIG funding. That's right, district schools received millions for each of those schools, then turned over the students, the building (at pennies on the dollar) and millions in grant money to corporate charter providers. Scores at those schools will go up, but when the money goes away what happens? This is designed to kill district schools and community charter schools.

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