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February 2013 Vol. 20. No. 4 Focus on A Downsizing District

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6 turnarounds planned for fall

By by Paul Jablow on Jan 30, 2013 03:27 PM

Superintendent William Hite says he plans to tackle six more turnarounds of low-performing schools next fall: three charter-run Renaissance schools and three District-managed.    

District officials say their past turnaround efforts have been successful. The Renaissance initiative is one reason the District predicts continued increases in charter enrollment.

But a consulting group monitoring the Renaissance schools says further research is needed. In its February 2012 report on “Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative,” Research for Action found early results from both charter-operated Renaissance Schools and District-run Promise Academies were encouraging, but questions remained.

The study, funded by the District’s Accountability Review Council, found that among K-8 schools, both turnaround models outperformed other District schools in 2010-11. Results for high schools were less conclusive. The report cautioned that further research is needed on what brought about the gains, whether they can be sustained beyond one year, and the effect on District schools not selected as turnarounds. 

A spokesperson for Mastery Charter Schools said that organization “has the capacity to open or turn around three schools a year for the foreseeable future.” 

The Renaissance elementary schools taken over by Mastery have also grown their enrollments significantly, said the spokesperson, Courtney Collins-Shapiro.

“The issue we should be talking about isn’t whether we should have public charter or district schools.” she said. “They are all public schools. The issue is that we’ve still got 40,000 to 50,000 kids in low-performing schools in Philadelphia, and we have to work together to solve that problem.”

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