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5 things to know about the financial cost of testing

By Paul Jablow on Nov 23, 2015 12:09 PM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming edition due out this week.


1. Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf has requested a total of $58.3 million for testing in the current budget.

Research group calls for revisions to Pa. school quality index

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 23, 2015 10:41 AM

Does Pennsylvania's school rating system make the grade?

In a recent brief, Research for Action argues that the state's School Performance Profile index leaves much to be desired.

Race, class, and standardized tests explained

By Dan Hardy on Nov 20, 2015 01:33 PM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming December-January edition.


What is the so-called achievement gap?

This gap manifests itself in test scores; in the vast majority of standardized tests, scores for African American and Latino students are, on average, significantly lower than scores for White and Asian students. Many object to calling it an “achievement” gap, citing vastly different resources available to students in different circumstances. The gap has shrunk over the last few decades, but is still wide and persistent, as is the gap in resources.

Marathon SRC meeting revolves around charter conversion proposals, renewals

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 20, 2015 10:30 AM

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission hosted a marathon meeting Thursday night featuring a slate of nearly 70 public speakers. The bulk of the testimony showcased opposition to the District's proposal to convert three of its elementary schools into neighborhood-based charters.

Hite to propose changing, but not canceling Source4Teachers contract

By David Limm on Nov 19, 2015 01:26 PM

In an email to School District employees Thursday, Superintendent William Hite again acknowledged the failure by staffing firm Source4teachers to adequately fill the District's substitute vacancies and described a few planned changes in the Cherry Hill-based firm's contract to be considered at Thursday's School Reform Commission meeting.

"Without a doubt, our efforts this year to ramp up substitute teacher recruitment and hiring by contracting with Source4Teachers (S4T) have not worked as anticipated," Hite said.

Fund for School District kicks off early literacy, classroom library campaign

By Fabiola Cineas on Nov 19, 2015 01:21 PM

The city is fueling its mission to put kids on track to reading on grade level by 4th grade.

On Tuesday, Superintendent William Hite, Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, and 30 other city leaders convened at Clara Barton Elementary School to launch the $3.5 million Right Books Campaign that aims to place leveled libraries in classrooms and comprehensive literacy coaches in every public elementary school in Philadelphia.

Changes to substitute teacher plan to be unveiled at SRC meeting

By Tom MacDonald for NewsWorks on Nov 19, 2015 10:38 AM

Philadelphia Schools Superintendent William Hite intends to present a new plan for covering teacher vacancies after months of dissatisfaction with a New Jersey contractor hired to supply substitutes.

Source4Teachers of Cherry Hill was awarded the District contract to provide 75 percent of the teachers needed by the District on any given day. In September, its fill rate was only 11 percent. That's increased, but only slightly.

What happens when a magnet school suddenly drops admission criteria?

By Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks on Nov 18, 2015 07:39 PM

For many Philadelphia families, the city's special admissions magnet schools are key resources that keep them from moving out of town.

But what would happen if one of these schools was suddenly required to drop its acceptance requirements and begin enrolling students performing at far lower academic standards?

One Northwest Philadelphia public school – Hill-Freedman World Academy – is on track to find out.

Source4Teachers is the right partner for the District

By Kendley Davenport on Nov 18, 2015 04:44 PM

For a number of years, the School District of Philadelphia has been challenged to recruit and place enough substitute teachers to cover its teacher absences. The percentage of classrooms covered by a substitute when a teacher was absent, commonly referred to as “fill rate,” hovered between 50 and 60 percent. 

The District is not alone. Many districts throughout the country have been struggling to develop a large enough pool of substitutes to cover absences. Large urban districts, where teacher absences are noticeably more frequent, tend to be the most challenged. It’s an operational problem that requires considerable effort and resources, and most districts will readily admit they are ill-equipped to tackle the problem without outside help.

Understanding the PSSA exams

By Paul Jablow on Nov 18, 2015 01:37 PM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming December-January edition.


What are the PSSAs?

The Pennsylvania Department of Education launched the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) in 1992. They are standardized tests administered annually and are based on state standards for what students should know and be able to do at various grade levels.

Keystone exams: Questions and answers

By Dan Hardy on Nov 17, 2015 03:40 PM

The Notebook is examining standardized testing this month. The topic is the focus of our upcoming December-January edition.

What are the Keystone exams?

In 2009, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education voted to establish statewide end-of-course exams in order to set uniform benchmarks for key academic subjects. The tests began in 2011. The tested subjects are Algebra 1, Biology, and Literature.

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