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Corrective action, 7th (70th, 700th) year?

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

Now part of the back-to-school, end-of-summer routine, the state’s 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for schools were released last week.

The number of District schools meeting their AYP targets was 118, compared to 113 last year. Also up slightly was the number in Corrective Action II status (for five or more years of missing targets) – 76, eight more than last year. Charter schools did significantly better than District schools this year, with almost three-fourths meeting their targets.

One story that hasn’t been written is that the District and 16 of its schools are now categorized by the state as in "Corrective Action II, 7th year."

Now part of the back-to-school, end-of-summer routine, the state’s 2009 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results for schools were released last week.

The number of District schools meeting their AYP targets was 118, compared to 113 last year. Also up slightly was the number in Corrective Action II status (for five or more years of missing targets) – 76, eight more than last year. Charter schools did significantly better than District schools this year, with almost three-fourths meeting their targets.

One story that hasn’t been written is that the District and 16 of its schools are now categorized by the state as in "Corrective Action II, 7th year."

This is the case even though there actually is no such category under the No Child Left Behind law, nor is there a 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th year of Corrective Action.

NCLB says that Corrective Action II, 1st year, is a year for drawing up corrective action plans – with the school community – for the restructuring of a school that has failed to meet its targets for five years. Corrective Action II, 2nd year is the year that reorganization is supposed to take place. After the restructuring, schools are supposed to revert to the beginning of the AYP ladder (as the schools formed out of the break-up of Olney and Kensington did several years ago). But at most schools, there has been no formal corrective action

The fact that Philadelphia has dozens of schools that have been allowed to languish in Corrective Action for three to seven years suggests two things:

  1. that NCLB has failed to provide the guidance and resources or focus the attention necessary to draw up and implement plans to actually take corrective action – to restructure and turn around persistently low-performing schools, and/or
  2. that there has been a tacit consensus among decision-makers in the state and District that the unproven but still-fashionable restructuring options called for by NCLB (replacing the staff, charter conversion, privatization or state takeover) are not adequate to the challenge of turning around large numbers of persistently low-performing schools.

Superintendent Ackerman’s response to the challenge is the just-launched Renaissance Schools initiative, which will attempt to turn around 10-12 schools per year. Some are hopeful that effort can assemble the know-how, the resources, and the will to successfully transform as many as 10 schools per year. But in any case, seven years into NCLB, there still is not the capacity to take corrective action on the scale that is needed in a district like Philadelphia.

AYP results for Philadelphia schools can be found here.

District- and school-level PSSA scores can be found here.

The Pennsylvania Dept of Ed is touting its steady progress as evidence of the importance of expanded school funding here.

The School District of Philadelphia did not do a release about the results, but The Inquirer reported on the results here.

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