The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
Press Contact: Vincent Thompson - (215) 400-4040

September 17, 2008
#116-08

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:

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.

The School District of Philadelphia
Empowerment Schools
2008-2009

Empowerment I Schools - 23 Schools
(Receiving the Most Intensive Supports and Resources)

High School Level (8 schools)
Bartram
Germantown
West Philadelphia
Edison/Fareira
Roxborough
William Penn
FitzSimons
University City

Middle School Level (3 schools)
Gillespie
Stetson
Turner

Elementary School Level (12 schools)
Blaine
Cooke
Dunbar
Potter-Thomas
Bryant
Douglass
Harrity
Smedley
Clymer
Drew
Marshall, Thurgood
Stearne

Empowerment II Schools . 62 Schools

High School Level (18 schools)
Carroll
Furness
Northeast
Swenson
Dobbins
Gratz
Overbrook
Vaux
Fels
King
Rhodes
Washington
Frankford
Lincoln
Sayre
Franklin
Mastbaum
South Philadelphia

Middle School Level (8 schools)
Clemente
Jones
Pepper
Feltonville Arts & Sciences
Meehan
Shaw
Harding
Vare

Elementary School Level (36 schools)
Allen, Ethan
DeBurgos
Jackson
Pastorius
Anderson
Edmunds, H. R.
Kenderton
Penn Treaty
Arthur
Ellwood
Lamberton
Pennell
Bache-Martin
Ferguson
Lea
Roosevelt
Bethune
Fitzpatrick
Locke
Southwark
Bluford
Hill
Ludlow
Sullivan
Carnell
Holme
Mann
Taggart
Cassidy
Hopkinson
Marin
Webster
Cramp
Hunter
Morrison
Wister