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by Susan Gobreski
Philadelphia is in transition again. District leaders have said that they want to create more high-quality seats and more choices for families, and give schools more autonomy in how they structure academic programs and culture. There is discussion about reorganizing schools -- re-aligning grade configurations, closing some places and expanding others -- and the role of charter schools in the district’s future.
How do I get started?
Talk to the adults in your life, including teachers, counselors, and parents or guardians. Review the articles and school profiles in this guide. Get a copy of the District’s high school directory published every fall and meet with your counselor. Seventh and 8th graders should attend the High School Expo, scheduled this year on September 28 and 29, where all District and charter schools are represented and you can ask questions. In October, the Philadelphia School Partnership will launch its website, greatphillyschools.org, from which you can get information on academics, extracurricular activities, graduation rates, college enrollment, safety and other factors.
There are some glimmers of progress. The percentage of Philadelphia high school graduates who enroll in college immediately after finishing school is on the rise, from 40 percent in 2008 to 44 percent last year.
"It's low, but I definitely think we're moving in the right direction," said Fran Newberg, the District's deputy for accountability and technology
“This lets the city of Philadelphia know that the District is investing in the growth of high-quality, high-performing school options,” said Penny Nixon, chief academic officer.
A total of 1,802 seats will be added in 11 high schools, all of which are either special admission or citywide admission schools. In six elementary and two middle schools, 470 seats will be added. All of the schools are highly rated, with scores of 3 or better on the District’s 10-point School Performance Index (SPI) scale. On that scale, 1 is the top score.
As a recently created high school preparing to graduate its first senior class, the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush in Northeast Philadelphia is just beginning to establish a sporting tradition.
If the school is lucky, it will someday have a legacy to equal that of its principal, Jessica Brown.
A three-time collegiate All-American in lacrosse and a standout field hockey player, Brown was inducted into Kenyon College’s athletic Hall of Fame in September.
The Notebook gathered data including enrollment, student demographics, attendance, and test scores. You can view a PDF of the center spread of data from the print edition, and spreadsheets of District and charter data.
How do I get started?
Talk to the adults in your life, including teachers, counselors, and parents or guardians. Get a copy of the District’s middle school guide, which gives advice about making the most of the middle years and sorting out your interests. Then, read this guide and the District’s high school directory, and meet with your counselor. Seventh and 8th graders should attend the High School Expo, scheduled this year in October.
When should I start thinking about high school choices?