The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
Press Contact: Vincent Thompson - (215) 400-4040
Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman unveils plan for addressing 85 under-performing schools in The School District of Philadelphia
Philadelphia -- The School District of Philadelphia.s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Arlene C. Ackerman, unveiled a 45-day action plan to address underachievement at 85 elementary, middle and high schools. The District named the participating schools Empowerment Schools to signify its commitment to providing the resources and supports the schools need to transform from under-performing into high-achieving learning environments.
Schools are classified as Empowerment Schools if they have not achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets under the No Child Left Behind guidelines; and are in Corrective Action Level II (CA-II), including those making progress in CA-II for the 2008-9 school year.
"While the School Reform Commission (SRC) was encouraged when the District recently celebrated its sixth consecutive year of improved scores on Pennsylvania.s standardized test, the Commissioners and the District administration both agree that more aggressive efforts are necessary to turn around our poorest-performing schools," said School Reform Commission Chairwoman Sandra Dungee Glenn. "The SRC supports the administration's efforts to tackle this challenge head-on."
"This initiative is designed to turn these schools around through a combination of targeted interventions," said Dr. Ackerman, who assumed administrative leadership of the District on June 2, 2008. "Relying on proven research, we will strategically incorporate additional supports into each of these schools. The supports will include increased resources, additional school personnel as well as support from the central and regional offices."
All Empowerment Schools will receive differentiated professional development, monthly walk-throughs, quarterly assessments in reading and math, a parent ombudsman, a student advisor, additional volunteers, and the assistance of Empowerment School Response Teams. However, 23 of the 85 schools will receive even more additional supports, including a social service liaison; an instructional specialist assigned to that school; a full-time, site-supported substitute teacher; a part-time retired principal assigned to that school; increased nursing services; and additional monthly walk-throughs.
Fifteen Empowerment School Response (ESR) Teams comprising of trained educators with various areas of expertise, will staff 10 regions and central headquarters. The teams will work intensively with the regional superintendents, the 85 principals and their teachers. The teams will: conduct needs assessments of selected Empowerment Schools; and review academic and professional development plans, assessment data, school and student schedules, all programs and staffing, and the condition of the building and grounds.
45-Day Action Plan Just The Beginning
The 45-day action plan is the District.s first initiative in what will be an ongoing commitment to support Empowerment Schools. During this 45-day period, the following actions have occurred or will occur:
- A .boot camp. for District and School-Based instructional specialists and Special Services Case Managers. These educators will serve on the 15 ESR Teams. (September 2- 12, 2008);
- The teams will participate in training sessions along with Regional and Assistant Regional Superintendents in preparation for initial school visits. Teams will also conduct instructional walkthroughs in selected schools with Regional and Assistant Regional Superintendents. (September 15-19, 2008);
- Initial conferences involving the principals of selected Empowerment Schools, their Regional Superintendents, the members of ESR Teams, and the members of the schools. instructional leadership teams; and informal school walkthroughs (September 22-27, 2008);
- The ESR Teams. development of 30-day action plans, including performance targets, for each school (September 29-October 3, 2008) and;
- Follow up visits to the Empowerment Schools (October 6 - 10, 2008)
Turn-Around Research-Based Action Plan
The Superintendent notes that staff utilized research-based programs and field-tested learning models regarding the District.s role in successful school reform, to design the Empowerment School Initiative. This research revealed the need for balancing central authority and school autonomy; increasing capacity through the investment in human, social and physical capital; understanding the change process; and providing leadership for change.
"We will know that we are making progress in turning these schools around when we see evidence of success measures that include improved attendance, increased school safety, increased parent involvement and the attainment of various academic benchmarks." the Superintendent said.
Empowerment I Schools - 23 Schools
(Receiving the Most Intensive Supports and Resources)
High School Level (8 schools)
Middle School Level (3 schools)
Elementary School Level (12 schools)
Empowerment II Schools . 62 Schools
High School Level (18 schools)
Middle School Level (8 schools)
Feltonville Arts & Sciences
Elementary School Level (36 schools)
Edmunds, H. R.