In a sign that the movement to opt out of testing is gaining traction, the Philadelphia City Council Education Committee on Wednesday heard parents, teachers, and education advocates decry state and federal officials' emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing.
"Standardized tests negatively impact students living in poverty, English language learners, and children with special needs, of which Philadelphia has many," said Alison McDowell, a District parent who has led Philadelphia's opt-out movement and helped organize the hearing with Councilman Mark Squilla.
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.
A broad-based coalition of rural, urban and suburban school districts, parents and advocates has filed a lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania, claiming it has failed to ensure that all children receive "a thorough and efficient" education.
In the filing, plaintiffs asked the Commonwealth Court to compel state leaders to equitably distribute enough funding for all students to be able to meet the state's prescribed academic standards.
"The resources that we collect aren't adequate to maintain the level of education that the state of Pennsylvania expects from its students," said William Penn School District Superintendent Joe Bruni.
When the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to unilaterally cancel the District teachers' union contract last month, it did so in way designed to attract the least immediate pushback.
Education advocates believe the SRC's action violated the state's government transparency laws.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education released a trove of academic data Thursday -– more than a month later in the year than usual.
For the second year in a row, the state downplayed year-to-year trends in standardized test score results, instead trumpeting its School Performance Profile – an aggregate measure that takes into account holistic factors including graduation rates and student progress.
Houston Elementary's volunteer-run library reopened last year after being non-operational for two years. Since then, it has grown by at least 500 books, says Elayne Blender, a community member who leads the library effort.
Now adult volunteers — who include grandparents, parents, neighbors and community members — are working with administration and the School District of Philadelphia to make sure that students have access to the library no matter the temperature outside.
My education is, in part, a product of the best intentions of the School District of Philadelphia. In the early '90s, the elementary school I attended in my neighborhood, James Russell Lowell in Olney, could no longer accommodate students up to 8th grade, so at the age of 11, I began evaluations to attend a school outside of my neighborhood, something most Philadelphia public school students know about.
Of the hundreds of children having to transfer from Lowell that year, I think there were three or four of us chosen — all white — to attend Masterman magnet school in the Spring Garden neighborhood. Some of them I had never seen in Olney before. Some were from families who had come to live there to practice their religious convictions, my first experience with a kind of urban missionary. Others came from families who could afford to send their children to private schools.
Two months into the school year, Walter Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter has shuttered its high school — displacing the 286 students who attended the Tacony campus in what the school's founder called a "human tragedy."
The scene on Harbison Avenue was the latest development in the charter's years-long scuffle with the Philadelphia School District regarding enrollment caps. Students arrived for classes Monday morning only to be told to head home.