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District rounding out the series of meetings about new grading system for schools

By David Limm on Nov 4, 2013 01:59 PM

A meeting on "school report cards" will take place from 6 to 7:30 tonight at Baldi Middle School in Northeast Philadelphia. It is the fourth of five such meetings held by the District to gather community feedback for a new grading system for schools.

This summer the District announced plans for a new school report card to replace the school annual reports and faulty School Performance Index (SPI) scores that have served as measures of accountability. An earlier series of forums was scrapped after two contentious meetings where angry parents questioned the motives behind rolling out a new and costly accountability system during a time of tremendous financial and structural instability and the value of the project.

At the time, a District spokesman indicated that the reason for the cancellation was the unstructured, off-point nature of the discussions, saying the District was not seeking input on whether it should proceed with school report cards, but rather, what information they should contain. 

The new "School Performance Framework" meetings have taken the form of focus groups, with the District handing out presentation materials explaining the purpose of what's being called "School Progress Reports." The reports will factor in the state's new school rating system along with other measures, such as "equity," "postsecondary outcomes," and "stakeholder voice." What officials want to know from those stakeholders -- parents and family -- is what they value in a school and the types of information they use when making educational decisions for their children. 

A summary of some of the recommendations made at previous meetings has been posted. Additional suggestions can be sent to

The first three sessions were led by Superintendent William Hite or his deputy, Paul Kihn. Serving as chief facilitator at tonight's meeting, as well as next week's, will be newly hired Chief Academic Supports Officer David Hardy, a former administrator in Camden's public school system. 

The last scheduled meeting will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Martin Luther King High School.

If you attend either of the last two meetings, please let us know what happened and what you thought about the session in the comments section of this post.


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Comments (22)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 3:54 pm
Where did the money come from to hire David Hardy? What is his salary? He is another "barely taught" administrator who climbed the charter ladder and is now suppose to to be the CAO? How insulting - once again. He is NOT an advocate for public schools. He is another champion of the privateer movement.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2013 4:57 am
Is the hiring of David Hardy a result of Phila. School "Partnership's" agenda? Who will benefit? Hardy has NO experience in public schools. He has almost NO teaching experience (at the most 2 years). What qualifies him to be responsible for academics?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on December 7, 2013 2:00 am
Exactly. I worked with David Hardy. He literally knows nothing about teaching children. He told me multiple times that children reading on a 2nd grade reading level would advance faster if simply given books on their grade level (in this case 5th grade). This is simply not true, and led to immense frustration on the part of the children. He has zero understanding of children with learning disabilities. As a principal, he denied these children access to field trips because their test scores weren't high enough. He also has complete contempt for teachers; in one instance, he allowed a teacher at his school to receive a salary of 25K a year, even though her contract entitled her to 48K. When the issue was brought up with him, he repeatedly swept it under the rug (for months). Only by going over his head was this teacher able to get her deserved salary. Why a man earning $150K+ would need to treat his hardworking staff this way is beyond me. But that's the kind of person he is.
Submitted by Annonym (not verified) on December 7, 2013 5:34 am
Once again the District hires someone who is clueless and incompetent. Who is Hardy? Is Philadelphia so desperate that we can't get someone competent who actually knows something about teaching and learning????
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on December 7, 2013 9:11 am
I read your comment before Dawn this morning as my morning newspaper, the Inquirer, was once again late. I found what you related about David Hardy disturbing and it ruined the enjoyment of my Saturday morning coffee and reading. Especially so since I got back to Diane Ravitch's new book, and coincidentally finished her chapter entitled, "The Facts About Teachers and Test Scores." I guess I can not get a day off from this stuff because what I have seen our district become is just so disturbing. May I just say this: As you know -- Forcing students to read at their frustration level is psychologically and emotionally harmful to them. It is not only counterproductive, but it causes negative behaviors, many of which are psychologically internalized, and are carried with them for life. Forcing young children to read at their frustration level, causes "reading disabilities" to emerge and become habit, which include the avoidance of reading and the students' need to hide their reading problems in psychological defense of their self esteem. What you describe above is "educational malpractice." To quote Diane Ravitch, "When the tests become more important than instruction, something fundamental is amiss in our thinking." There is a reason Temple once had, and perhaps still do have, a Masters degree program in "Psychology of Reading."
Submitted by anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 3:12 pm
Let's be real folks. These report card meetings are to give William Hite the fodder to close our schools. It is insulting and manipulative to withhold resources and then punish schools because they don't have the "extras" that parents want!!! No wonder they are so poorly attended.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 4:53 pm
True to their corporate masters methods, these report card meetings are the way the SRC tests their product. They are not truly looking for parent and staff input. They are looking for information on how to overcome resistance to closing of neighborhood schools. Deciding which school to close is the purpose of the report cards.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on November 4, 2013 10:04 pm
Exactly RIGHT !! It's simply another "Set Up" for a bitch session where parents can vent and Hite can play the even handed listener, setting up the next batch of school closings. So WHAT are we going to do about it???? The current "strategies" are clearly not working.
Submitted by please (not verified) on November 5, 2013 9:44 am
I keep waiting for you to tell us that.
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on November 5, 2013 9:43 am
Sorry for repeating myself. Even I'm getting bored. I shall stop after these words of Wisdom from Martin Luther, "If you submit to evil, you serve it." Actually, I may be wrong about the author but I always admired his hat.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 5:18 pm
Unless and until we get the most basic supplies in our classrooms, I don't want to hear a word about teacher or school evaluations. No technology. Zero. Zip. nada. Not a laptop, not a desktop, not a projector, not a white board. Nada! And I don't want to hear about the one room school house either. If that's the argument, then evaluate me in the same fashion you evaluated the one room school house teachers. But compare me to highly funded suburban teachers with resources galore? Screw that. And I would bet a lawsuit could be filed regarding this dumb-a$$ system as well.
Submitted by Marc Brasof (not verified) on November 4, 2013 5:44 pm
It is well understood in literature that "SMART" goals and the push for transparency over simplifies the realities of teaching and learning. If you want to read a great critique, seek out Michael Fielding's work (1999). And, the measurements (which compare schools) are not really helpful if there isn't much being done about facilitating professional learning communities between schools. Finally, what academic/organizational purpose can such a ranking offer in terms of raising the quality of a school's program? Before implementing costly systems such as these we should be asking to what ends? What is the purpose of labeling a school? Are the students that attend all schools all of our concerns? Is the market-driven model creating greater economic equity in the country? If not, why would we assume such practices would strengthen educational practices?
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 6:12 pm
I attended the meeting at Southwark, which would be my catchment school if I had kids. The meeting was very well attended, which seemed to be a testiment to both the parents and the new principal. But most attendees didn't seem to realize or understand the meeting's intended focus was grading schools; they were simply there to participate in their school community, and to discuss their needs and issues of concern (for example, that the screening requirements for parent volunteers were preventing parents without US social security numbers for helping out). Their concerns were not using report card info to choose among schools, but to know how things were going in their own school and to ensure that it is getting the resources it needs. The session was bizarre at points, with discussion of trying to represent a school's "spirit" or motto in the grading system. At one point Kihn suggested that the reports cards should really show - for comparison's sake - the effective per-student budget, which is interesting but not at all realistic. A really odd meeting which I am sure just ends up getting chalked up as completed outreach for whichever foundation is actually pushing this report card nonsense.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 7:47 pm
and all the little children of SDP can run the streets for next two days while teachers are trained on how "Daniellson" knows best!
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on November 4, 2013 7:06 pm
yes... where did Hite money from? this is true... Hite hires his friends from outside Philly....The assistant principals from Philly who have slogged for the Philly kids for more than 10 yrs are all laid off and collecting unemployent with no medical benefits.... What is our Mayor Nutter doing? Nobody is questioning him... All Philadelphians are trashed in poverty after Hite's arrival... our Philly kids are suffering.... The principals are sick to death to run schools with more than 400 kids with no APs, Unless big riots break out and something happen to our kids, Hite will not call back the APs. We Philadelphians are waiting for Hite to leave our city.. Enough is enough.....Even after getting 45 million from the Harrisburg, he is calling the laid off employees...
Submitted by diraj (not verified) on November 4, 2013 7:01 pm
i am going to share a secret with all who will rewad. If Notebook is true to their website and not phony. they will help share this to the higher ups. The US is the bottom ten of talented smart kids. Because we use the same centralize system for over 100 years. In India, they developed a teaching system called SKl, please everyone google it. These children ages 5 and up are adding 15 3 digit numbers in 2 minutes. These are regular children like yours and mines. But their way of teaching is different. We are governed by several dominating companies who controls all the school books in the US public school system. Its about the dollars. In india, they explore new ways of teaching and are not black balled like they do in the US. Every book in every public school have the same exact principles of teaching. Why are children in other countries out perform our children in international competitions. every single year. Have you ever seen a superintendant from any city branch out and obtain ideas from other countries whose students outperform ours every 100 to 1 student. please just google SKL as a start these children are doing mathematics computations in their head. No one in the US can add 15 3 digit numbers in 2 minutes. ex 539+685+987+432+982-487+892-376+771+321+669-369 these are just 12 3 digit numbers. I have witnessed children in india do this computation in their head in 2 minutes with the right answer. regular kids. The reason why no school official have not branched out to seek different ways of teaching is because it woulod take the money away from the corrupt school book making companies. Its about the money, they never cared about the students.
Submitted by Headstart teacher (not verified) on November 4, 2013 7:12 pm
I'll make it an easy summary - all neighborhood schools receive an "F" Because the SRC has made sure they suck and parents want more for their children. All charters who play the corporate agenda/privatization rules game get "A's" and the rest are somewhere in between.
Submitted by Lisa Haver (not verified) on November 4, 2013 9:11 pm
I attended the meeting at West Philly High. There were about 20 people in attendance. The first issue brought up was why the meetings were not being publicized by the district and why they were not posted on the home page of the SD (they were posted on the side of one of the parent pages). It seemed that the meetings were being scheduled and announced piecemeal. At that point, there were no meetings planned for any part of the Northeast or the Northwest. Most people expressed objection to any kind of rating system, especially at a time when the schools are being starved of resources. There were not many questions about the details of the system itself. Many of the people were frustrated about the lack of nurses and counselors and the reappearance of split-grade classes. One parent asked why her son would not know who his teacher would be until October 29. Dr. Hite said that because the district underestimated the number of students in the district, leveling had to be pushed back to the 28th. I disagreed, saying that the lack of seniority rules had made the process chaotic. There were also questions about the Dell Foundation's financing of the program. Who really needed the rating system, the schools or the investors?
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 5, 2013 9:16 am
We all know the primary purpose of rating schools is for the privatization game so that they can be labeled as "failing schools" and turned over to private operators. We also know that in the end, schools will be graded on test scores alone. However, these are factors that should be publicly reported on a report card for all schools which would allow us to discuss and compare the quality of the schools and their services to children: 1) Student/teacher ratios 2) Average class size by grade & number of split grade classes 3) Number of reading specialists and other specialists who actually teach in small group settings 4) Number of Art and Music teachers assigned to the school 4) Student/counselor ratios 5) Student/School nurse ratios 6) Student/Assistant principal ratios 7) Special Education Student/Teacher ratios 8) Number of other administrative officers in a school, such as Deans 9) Extra-curricular activities offered 10) Programs offered 11) School Budgets, including average teacher/administrator salaries and dollars spent on supplies 12) Number of working computers and technology labs 13) Number of teachers with Masters Degrees and Doctorates 14) Average years of experience of the teaching staff and administrative staff 15) Teacher turnover rates 16) Student transfer out rates (dropout rates are impossible to gauge accurately) 17) Student expulsion rates 18) Demographic data on all schools 19) School Climate inventory results 20) Results of principal effectiveness questionaires answered by Faculty, and Parents 21) College admission and post secondary admission and completion data. 22) Whether a school has selection criteria or not 23) Whether a school has barriers to entry Now, how many of those crucial factors of a quality school do we think will be included on report cards? Then may we ask, how much of our data on schools is credible, valid, reliable and accurately reported?
Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on November 5, 2013 11:04 am
Great list - thank you! Unfortunately, I do not thinking anyone from 440 will alter their script.
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on November 6, 2013 7:24 am
Sadly, it appears that you are correct and the script will be read to us.
Submitted by Robert Watss (not verified) on March 16, 2015 4:39 am

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