This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Even a quick look at the school profiles for the 14 Renaissance Eligible Schools makes clear that one of the central issues the School District and its turnaround teams will have to tackle in its Renaissance Schools plan is the effects of concentrated poverty.
Here’s what the typical Renaissance Eligible School looks like (using median figures and the data provided for 12 of the 14 schools):
- 489 students are enrolled
- 93.8 percent of students are economically disadvantaged compared to 76 percent District-wide
- 0.3 percent of students are in mentally gifted programs
- 97.8 percent of students are African American or Latino
- 0.4 percent of students are White
- 19.7 percent of students score proficient or better in reading
- 38.8 percent of teachers have been retained at the school five years or more.
The school profiles aren’t up on the District’s site yet, but you can find similar information on the school report cards.
The data brings to mind an important new book by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. It reports that differences in performance among the highest-poverty schools in that city had a lot to do with how acute the poverty was. When the researchers used a variety of indicators to measure poverty, they found that the high-poverty schools that were most likely to be stuck as low performers were the ones where the economic and social challenges were most acute.