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.
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.
Public, Catholic League finals. Tribune
Prep Charter wins first pigskin title. South Philly Review
Pa. facing $1.85 billion deficit next year. NewsWorks
Gov.-elect Tom Wolf names his transition team. Morning Call
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."
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. Notebook
Now what. Examiner
Wolf needs to hit the ground running. Notebook
Harrisburg takes a step to the right. Daily News
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:
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.
SRC's Simms screams at students, we demand local control. Philadelphis Student Union
Charter-school advocates rally for expansion. Daily News
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."
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."
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.
Schools suing Pa. Department of Education over funding. Morning Call