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District will review applications for 40 new charter schools

By the Notebook on Nov 17, 2014 04:57 PM

The School District said Monday that it has received applications for 40 new charter schools.

In Philadelphia, applications for new charter schools haven't been considered by the School Reform Commission in seven years.

But in passing the law approving Philadelphia's $2-per-pack cigarette tax, state legislators included a provision that requires the School District of Philadelphia to open itself to new charter applications annually, while giving rejected applicants the chance to appeal decisions through a state board.

Now that the deadline for submitting applications has passed, the District's Charter Schools Office will start its process for reviewing each of the applications.

According to a District release, that process will consist of three phases.

Cyber charters again get low marks on Pa. tests

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 17, 2014 04:35 PM

A new study by Research for Action has found that Pennsylvania's cyber-charter sector continues to yield subpar results on the state's standardized tests.

Using the state's recently released school performance profile data for 2013-14, RFA found the average School Performance Profile score for the cyber-charter sector was 48.9 – well below the averages for the state's brick-and-mortar charters and traditional public schools.

Groups plan actions for when education funding body meets in Philly

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 16, 2014 11:55 AM

The Pennsylvania legislature's Basic Education Funding Commission is coming to Philadelphia for hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and two advocacy groups have announced plans to make sure that its members hear from the public whether they want to or not.

Philly Keystone results show big need for improvement

By David Limm and Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 14, 2014 12:50 PM

Updated | Nov. 17 

Beginning with the class of 2017 -- this year's sophomores -- high school students will have to pass three Keystone Exams before they can don caps and gowns for graduation. 

Philadelphia's scores for the last school year, the second time the tests were given, indicate that the vast majority of schools have a long way to go if most of their students are to graduate by passing the test.

In some city schools, pass rates are in the single digits and low double-digits for all three subjects -- Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Biology scores were the lowest; in only seven schools did at least half the students pass the biology exam. Pass rates were low, even in some highly selective schools.

From the archives: Edison: way down -- but not yet out

By the Notebook on Nov 14, 2014 10:30 AM

The Notebook launched in 1994 as a newspaper committed to ensuring quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. We celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first publication earlier this year. We are featuring an article from our archives each week, shedding light on both the dramatic changes that have taken place in public education and the persistent issues facing Philadelphia's school system.

This piece is from the Summer 2002 print edition:

by Paul Socolar

Uncertainty continues to surround the role of Edison Schools Inc. in Philadelphia's school privatization experiment. With the company facing a financial debacle, many are questioning its capacity to run schools here this fall. But Edison is still lobbying to take on more schools.

How Philadelphia's District schools fared on the PSSA exams

By David Limm on Nov 13, 2014 03:08 PM

In late September, addressing last spring's results on the state's annual standardized tests, Superintendent William Hite said that, districtwide, students performed at a level similar to the previous year.

That was after a year of a thousand cuts, and in the early months of 2013-14, District schools were running short on staff after the loss of teachers, nurses, counselors, aides, and other support professionals. Students were learning in spartan conditions.  

Hite took a rosy view of the scores, saying he was "surprised we didn't see a more significant decline, considering how we started the year."

Reactivating vacant schools: Design group takes collaborative approach

By NewsWorks staff on Nov 13, 2014 02:26 PM

The Community Design Collaborative, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Philadelphia, and AIA Philadelphia will host a design charrette Friday to explore reuse strategies for two closed public schools.

Roxborough senior to be named 'Rising Star' at tonight's EDDY Awards

By Neema Roshania for NewsWorks on Nov 13, 2014 10:19 AM

Justina McMinn says she left C.W. Henry School nearly four years ago with "straight Fs."

Today, the Roxborough High School senior gets all As, plans to go to college and hopes to eventually work at a nonprofit that combats human trafficking.

And at a ceremony this evening, she'll be named the Philadelphia Education Fund's "Rising Star," an award that comes with scholarship money, networking opportunities and support throughout college.

Four schools approved for redesign

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 12, 2014 06:00 PM

Update | Friday, noon 

The School District has approved three elementary schools and one middle school for redesign overhauls that could significantly change how students experience education. 

All the plans, in one way or another, appear to involve more intensive use of technology and a shift to inquiry- and project-based learning.

The schools are:

Wolf needs to hit the ground running

By Ron Whitehorne on Nov 12, 2014 12:09 PM

Tom Wolf won the governor’s race because he made this election about education and he aggressively challenged Tom Corbett’s budget austerity narrative. Wolf put forward bold proposals for funding schools, including taxing shale, closing corporate loopholes, and creating a progressive state income tax.  

A landslide vote, running against a strong Republican tide nationally and in local legislative races, allows him to claim a mandate for moving ahead on this agenda.

Video shows SRC member telling kids, 'Y'all probably in failing schools'

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 12, 2014 09:39 AM


A new film released by the Philadelphia Student Union clearly shows School Reform Commissioner Sylvia Simms yelling over loudly chanting students that they were "probably in failing schools."

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