The Pennsylvania Department of Education has unveiled a new School Performance Profile to rate schools, replacing the system used under No Child Left Behind.
No longer are schools designated for makeovers that could include closure or charter conversion, as they were in the NCLB era. But the new system, which gives schools scores from 1 to 100 based on a combination of indicators, continues to label schools based on their performance level.
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.
Last year, the School District of Philadelphia revealed that its system for rating schools was faulty and suspended the use of the “School Performance Index,” or SPI. But on Monday, the District will begin a process to develop a new school report card that will not only replace the SPI, but also the school annual reports. District leadership is asking the community to help them decide what will go in the school report card and how it will be designed, and will hold six community meetings to get the process underway.
About 250 parents, community members, principals, teachers, and District officials braved an unusual fall snowstorm on Saturday to attend the first citywide summit on School Advisory Councils.
The "SAC Summit" at Benjamin Franklin High School was a key step in District plans to put functioning SACs in an increasing number of schools, perhaps close to half of those in the city.
The unfolding story of possible cheating on the 2009 PSSA exam is terrible news. It likely means educators acted unethically. It almost certainly means that the level of trust between the public and schools is even worse than it has been. And it could mean that those who confuse evidence of real learning with standardized test score results will yell even louder about the failings of our schools.
I teach in Philadelphia, have for the past five years. The last four of those years have been at Olney Elementary, a school that has been flagged for suspicious erasure patterns in this report. I can say I have never witnessed any answer erasure in my years there, including 2009. This news saddens me.
Philadelphia public schools have a new array of performance targets this year, and on its website, the District has published school annual reports showing how each school did.
Since 2003, all public schools have been receiving a federally mandated No Child Left Behind report card and needing to meet performance targets to make adequate yearly progress (AYP). NCLB targets are for test score performance and participation, as well as for attendance and graduation rates.
The Sunday, October 11 edition of the Inquirer included their annual Report Card on the Schools. This year's slim 12-page section focuses on math. The Inquirer has not yet incorporated this year's info onto the page with their past Report Cards, but has posted a separate 2009 page that has articles from it and a test score lookup tool.
The articles focus more on New Jersey and suburban Philadelphia schools than on Philadelphia, but the web page includes a list of math resources for students.
Activists who have long pressed the District to enhance its feeding programs are pushing changes in policy that they say will result in students eating more free meals at school.
Community Legal Services (CLS) and Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), want Superintendent Arlene Ackerman to include a school’s participation rate in the school breakfast program as an indicator on the new school report card.
Kristin Graham, The Inquirer’s education reporter, has recently written articles about the pressures of passing underperforming or de facto, failing students in the school district of Philadelphia. In her most recent June 21st article, Graham notes “the pressure to pass students- even those who rarely go to class or can’t read – is pervasive… So I beg to ask, are we really passing students?”
Unveiling a new approach to school accountability, the District has posted “school annual reports” on its Web site that set improvement goals for each school.
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said these reports would provide a more comprehensive view of school performance than test scores or a school’s “Adequate Yearly Progress” status under No Child Left Behind.