This story, a product of a reporting collaboration between the Notebook and WHYY, was produced for radio and featured on NewsWorks Tonight. Bill Hangley reports from last week's annual Thanksgiving Day "Turkey Bowl" game in Germantown.
Philadelphia school officials have named a new principal for Martin Luther King High in Germantown. You may have heard the story of how a politically connected charter school operator almost took over King. Now the school has a new plan, but plenty of unanswered questions remain.
It's just a few minutes before kickoff and William Wade is the picture of optimism.
After months of bracing the city for the possibility of widespread school closings and consolidations, District officials recommended in early November that just nine schools be shuttered.
Five elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools are being targeted for closure.
The School District is finalizing plans to expand and improve School Advisory Councils, with the aim of introducing them into additional schools and training members and school principals about their roles.
Amid all the debate about charters and vouchers, one glaring gap remains in the reform landscape: District turnaround schools that enjoy the same autonomy as Renaissance charters. The current options are highly autonomous charters and highly prescribed District Promise Academies.
There are great District principals who have turned around chronically low-performing schools. They should be encouraged to take on similar challenges today, provided that they can also prepare successors so their current schools continue to enjoy strong leadership.
In your October issue, a table presented figures to suggest that charter-managed Renaissance Schools recorded impressive gains in reading and math during the first year of the Renaissance initiative. In the weeks since, this table has been widely cited – from Education Week to the Huffington Post. We don't intend to contest the claim that the charter-managed Renaissance Schools are producing gains in student achievement; rather, our goal is to highlight that the way these data were presented raises more questions than it answers.
Despite encouraging signs of progress in their first cohort of 13 Renaissance Schools, District officials are not yet sure if they will attempt to turn around more low-performing public schools next year.
Thomas Darden, the District's deputy chief of strategic programs, said that “no decision has been made yet” about whether to hand more struggling public schools over to outside managers for conversion to charters.
With increased emphasis on “data-driven decision-making,” what is presented as data, and how it is presented, has become more important than ever.
In the October 2011 issue of The Notebook, a table entitled, “Turnaround providers report big test gains” presented figures to suggest that charter-managed Renaissance Schools recorded rather impressive gains in both reading and math during the first year of the Renaissance Initiative, the 2010-11 school year.
This response from Research for Action (RFA) is not intended to contest the claim that the charter-managed Renaissance Schools are producing gains in student achievement; rather, our goal is to highlight that the way these data were presented raises more questions than it answers.
El problema (estudiantes que estaban siendo intimidados en el camino de ida y vuelta a la escuela) no era tan fuera de lo común, pero la reacción de la comunidad escolar sí.
En cuestión de semanas, todas las esquinas en un radio de cinco cuadras de la escuela elemental estaban siendo patrulladas por padres y miembros de la comunidad antes de comenzar el día escolar y después de la salida. Los padres también establecieron un programa de “pasillos seguros” dentro de la escuela. Toda la intimidación terminó.
For the Notebook’s October print edition on school turnarounds, we took a comprehensive look at the city's initial group of seven Renaissance charter schools. This article looks at test score gains at the schools . You can also read more about the extent to which the schools remained neighborhood schools.