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Voucher bill lists eligible schools

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

Senate Bill 1, the voucher bill that is the top educational priority of the new administration in Harrisburg, lists 144 schools whose students will be eligible for vouchers if they meet certain income limits.

Of that total, 88 are in Philadelphia.

The list is interesting:

  • It includes every neighborhood high school in the city except for Northeast and Audenried, which didn’t have an 11th grade to be tested.
  • It includes several discipline schools, including Learning Academy North, where students attend after being expelled, raising questions of whether those students would also be eligible.
  • It includes Renaissance Schools and Promise Academies, schools currently undergoing makeovers either by outside organizations or a District team. The ones now under outside managers are now charter schools, raising another interesting eligibility issue.
  • It includes at least one school, Gillespie Middle School, that no longer exists.

The list was compiled from all schools that fall within the lowest 5 percent in terms of achievement in the state; it appears that any school in which combined math and reading proficiency rates fell below 44 percent was on it, regardless of whether it has made Adequate Yearly Progress.

A quick spot-check found at least two schools, Leidy Elementary and Mastbaum Vo-Tech, that had made AYP for two straight years.

Still awaiting responses from the bill’s sponsors, Sens. Jeffrey Piccola and Anthony Williams, as to whether the list is final or subject to revision.

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