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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."

School choice advocates rally for greater charter expansion

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 11, 2014 08:46 PM

Philadelphia charter school parents, students, leaders and advocates rallied Tuesday outside School District headquarters, calling on the School Reform Commission to approve more charters.

A few hundred people listened to impassioned testimony from parents of students at Mastery, KIPP, Freire, and Boys' Latin, and a student from Esperanza Academy.

"Your address should not determine whether you can get a great education," said Elaine Wells, parent of two students at Boys' Latin. "That is insanity."

With days until deadline, 46 new charter applications

By Dale Mezzacappa on Nov 11, 2014 05:04 PM

The deadline for filing is not until Nov. 15, but the School District of Philadelphia already has 46 letters of intent from groups wanting to open new charter schools.

It is seeking help to evaluate them all.

A letter sent to universities says that "budgetary constraints require the District to seek application reviewers who are willing to give of their expertise on a volunteer basis." 

Remembering the fallen alumni of Roxborough High

By Eileen DiFranco on Nov 11, 2014 11:48 AM

Four long years of war took the lives of 97 Roxborough graduates. Every time I walk up the steps of the marble hall in Roxborough High School, I lightly touch a metal plaque that honors those who gave their lives for their country during World War II.

The grand hall, the centerpiece of the Art Deco-style public schools built in Philadelphia in the 1920s, rises two stories, its walls covered by paintings in gilt frames. Two magnificent curved staircases lead to the second floor, where the plaque honoring the dead faces a window that sometimes blazes with sunlight. The hall is quiet in comparison to the rest of the building, giving it the feeling of a shrine. A fitting place to honor the dead.

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