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Philadelphia’s District and charter high schools: How are they doing?

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

The school profiles in this guide tell you a lot about the 87 schools we describe and their programs. Here we provide statistics about how their students are performing. That is important information as you think about where to apply to high school.

Below, you’ll find data about all the District-run schools and charter schools.

The first four columns of numbers tell you about each school’s student body. What’s the enrollment and do they serve large percentages of low-income and special education students and English language learners?

Student attendance is often a good indicator of how engaged students are. Keep in mind that a school with 90% attendance has twice as many students absent as one with 95% attendance. The number of suspensions tells you about school climate, though a school with more students might be expected to have more suspensions.

Average SAT scores indicate how well the school prepares students for the test required for college admission. Nationally, average student SAT scores, both verbal and math, hover around 500. Only two Philadelphia public schools top the national average in both areas; SAT test results are highly correlated with poverty rates. Note that not all students take the SAT; if a school pushes all its students to take the test, that can drive the average down.

Finally, check out graduation rates and what percentage of graduates are going to college. Here you see some of the starkest contrasts. At six schools, fewer than half of the students who started 9th grade in 2008 graduated in 2012. And at 30 high schools, including most neighborhood high schools, fewer than half those who graduate go straight to college.

The Notebook has not included PSSA scores in this chart. We are trying to learn more about their validity and the results of investigations into apparent adult cheating on past exams.

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