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Philadelphia’s District and charter high schools: By the numbers

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

The Notebook is trying some new ways of showing our data. Below is a bubble chart visualization of the data. You can manipulate the data in a lot of different ways if you click on the title and go to a page with a bigger version of the chart. Pay careful attention because some of the results can be misleading–for example if you look at SAT scores by school type, it adds up all of the SAT totals and makes it look like neighborhood high schools have the best scores when in reality it’s that they have more students.

Please let us know what you think of this visualization. The raw Excel sheet of the data is available here and a PDF of the full data spread from the print edition of the paper is available here.

Key to data for District schools

All data are reported by the School District of Philadelphia for the 2008-09 school year, except for the following:

Graduation rate, dropout rate: rates are as determined in 2008 for entering 9th graders from fall 2004, from School District of Philadelphia. Students are attributed to their 9th grade school.

SAT scores: for 2008 from Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Note: William Penn High School is not accepting students for 2010 and is not listed.

Key to data for charter schools

Enrollment, number of teachers, average student daily attendance, suspensions are reported by the charter schools, from 2008 Charter School Annual Report summary from Pennsylvania Department of Education. Updated annual reports were filed by schools in August 2009 and will be posted by the Department of Education in fall 2009.

Percentage of special education students, mentally gifted students, English language learners reported by the School District of Philadelphia for the 2008-09 school year

SAT scores: for 2008 from Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Notes: Graduation and dropout rates for charter schools using a comparable methodology to District schools are not available. Three new charter schools opening in 2009 are not listed: Arise Academy, Eastern University Academy, and Sankofa Freedom Academy.

Types of high schools

Special admission high schools These 16 high schools have specific admissions requirements in the areas of test scores, grades earned in core subjects, and attendance and behavior records. Two other schools have special admission programs within them. Students across the city may apply.

Citywide admission high schools Students citywide are eligible to apply to these 13 high schools, and those who meet the criteria are entered into a lottery. Each school has different admissions criteria, but most require that students have passing grades in all major subjects and maintain a good attendance, behavior, and punctuality record.

Neighborhood high schools These 32 schools have geographic boundaries; students are guaranteed admission if their school for grade 8 falls within the feeder pattern. Those living outside of the feeder pattern may also apply, but admission is based on available space and determined through a lottery.

Charter high schools There are 28 charter schools serving the high school grades. Charter schools are not District-operated – each functions as an independent school district. Any Philadelphia student may apply to any charter school. Admissions requirements vary according to each school. Some require extensive orientations with both students and parents. A lottery is used if there are more applicants than slots.

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