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‘No evidence to support private management’

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The RAND/Research for Action study tracked how students fared after 45 of the city’s worst-scoring elementary and middle schools were turned over to private managers in 2002. After a sophisticated comparison of test score results, the report found “no evidence to support private management as an especially effective method of promoting student achievement.”

Key findings include:

  • Schools in Philadelphia improved substantially overall in the first four years of private management. But privatization is only one of many possible explanations for that improvement.
  • Over four years, gains in proficiency among Philadelphia’s low-performing schools, while strong, were generally no better than that of poor-performing schools in other parts of the state.
  • Schools run by private providers on average were doing no better or no worse at raising student achievement than were schools in the rest of the District.
  • Two providers were noticeably lagging. Schools run by Temple University were not keeping pace with the gains of other District schools in reading or math. Schools run by Victory Schools were not keeping pace in math.
  • “Restructured schools,” which stayed under District management while a variety of interventions took place, had the best overall improvement of any of the reform models.

The report is available at www.researchforaction.org or by calling 215-823-2500.

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