This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Data about student performance at Philadelphia schools are accessible from a variety of sources. Statistics reveal some huge differences in student outcomes from school to school. For example, reported graduation rates at Philadelphia high schools range from under 20 percent to over 90 percent.
No single statistic proves that a school is serving all its students well. Similarly, a snapshot at a single point in time does not reveal whether the school has been improving or getting worse. Experts say it is best to judge and compare schools’ performance and look for progress over time by using multiple measures (for example, graduation and attendance rates, test scores, teacher experience and turnover).
Some Internet sources for data about Philadelphia schools:
- The state’s Department of Education compiles an annual "report card" on each school, with a wide array of data on test scores, discipline, promotion and graduation rates, attendance, enrollment stability, teacher qualifications, and more. Currently available are the school report cards on the 2001-02 school year. See www.paprofiles.org.
- The state’s "school performance funding" is a system of monetary rewards given each fall to schools that have made significant improvement in their scores on the PSSA (the statewide standardized test) and in their student attendance. For recent school performance funding awards, see www.pde.state.pa.us/k12_initiatives.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer publishes an annual Report Card on the Schools in March; the online version provides comparative information about public high schools in the region. See www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/ special_packages/school_report_card.
- The School District of Philadelphia has a directory listing for each school, and links to school web pages for those schools that have them. See the school’s website at www.phila.k12. pa.us/ for details.
- The School District has a directory with mission statements for each charter school. See the school’s website at www.phila.k12. pa.us/ for details.