A brief look at significant recent efforts to improve teacher quality in Philadelphia


District generates teacher recruitment materials for first time.


District creates recruitment plan to fill vacancies in high need areas: Streamlines and shortens hiring process; focuses on increasing number of bilingual teachers and diversifying staff.

Alliance Organizing Project (AOP) conducts teacher quality survey: Quantifies vacancy problem in neighborhood schools.


Literacy Intern Teacher program serves 250 K-2 classrooms: Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF) and District create early grades literacy program and provide alternate certification route.

AOP wins parent seat on citywide teacher recruitment and quality committee.


State Department of Education makes certification requirements more rigorous.

Approval of teachers’ contract results in new efforts to improve teacher quality:

  • New bonuses: $4,500 for new hires who commit to three years of teaching, $2,000 annually for teaching in some high-need schools, and $1,500 for teaching in high-need subjects.
  • Schools may elect school-based teacher selection by personnel committees.
  • Years of service required before transfer eligibility increases from two to three.

Coalition embarks on teacher quality campaign: Pennsylvania ACORN, AOP, Education Law Center, Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), and PEF pressure District to address inequitable distribution of qualified teachers.


State legislature drops residency requirement for Philadelphia teachers: greatly expands prospective hiring pool.

District begins international recruitment to fill vacancies.

PCCY and AOP issue joint report on teacher shortage.

State establishes Intern certificate program: provides alternate certification path.


No Child Left Behind becomes law: Landmark legislation requires that all public school teachers of core academic subjects be "highly qualified" by 2006.

District launches Campaign for Human Capital: Citing teacher quality as "the key factor in academic performance," CEO Vallas convenes committee of civic, community, and business leaders to address teacher recruitment and retention.


District intensifies teacher quality improvement efforts:

  • Training initiatives: Two-week paid summer training, new teacher coaches, principals attend leadership training and create teacher retention plans.
  • Open houses for recruits and automated tracking of hiring process.
  • "Teach in Philly" website and vacancy list online.
  • Student teacher incentives: stipends, classroom supplies money, and cooperating teacher bonuses if their student teachers are hired.

District partners with Teach for America and Troops to Teachers: Brings more than 100 new intern teachers into chronically understaffed schools.

ACORN Quality Teaching Pilot begins: Boosts recruitment and retention efforts at Blaine, Blankenburg, Martha Washington, and Reynolds in partnership with District and Philadelphia teachers’ union.


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