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Schools’ performance rated in new online annual reports

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

Unveiling a new approach to school accountability, the District has posted “school annual reports” on its Web site that set improvement goals for each school.

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said these reports would provide a more comprehensive view of school performance than test scores or a school’s “Adequate Yearly Progress” status under No Child Left Behind.

Each school’s performance is monitored on the basis of more than 30 different indicators, with targets for improvement in 2009 set for each category.

There are five types of indicators for each school:

  • Student achievement, which includes such measures as student PSSA proficiency, PSSA growth, and achievement gaps.
  • School operations, which includes facility safety audit grades, special education compliance, and English language learner progress.
  • Community satisfaction, which includes results of parent, teacher, and student surveys.
  • School-selected indicators, which are chosen from a list of more than a dozen optional measures such as teacher attendance, teacher retention, and reduction in chronic absence among students.
  • Extra credit, which rewards schools for exceptional performance in closing the racial gap in test scores.

Deputy for Accountability David Weiner said the intent of making the data public is to provide “conversation starters” within schools.

For instance, he said, “If a school doesn’t hit its math targets, and it only has one certified math teacher, we assume the school and the District will do things to make sure it gets qualified math teachers.”

“We don’t expect many schools to make 100 percent of their targets,” he said. “But we expect all schools to make gains.”

To access the reports, go here.

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