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District redesigns school evaluations

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

The School District has redesigned its school report cards, making it easier to compare schools with the same grade spans and similar demographics.

The new report cards measure academic achievement, progress, and school climate, dividing schools into "peer groups" and highlighting the top performers in each. For high schools, college and career readiness is also measured.

Next year, other criteria will be added, including equity (explained as the growth of the lowest-performing students in the school), educator effectiveness, and parental satisfaction.

“The District is acutely aware that our schools lack many resources. We remain focused on the fight for adequate funding and obtaining the tools needed for student success,” said Superintendent William Hite in a statement. “In the meantime, the School Progress Report will be used to celebrate successes, identify areas of intervention and support, enable evidence-based decisions and strategically focus our work.”

The new school evaluation puts extra weight on year-to-year progress, emphasizing student growth more than overall achievement.

The School Progress Report replaces the controversial School Performance Index, which was scrapped last year after reports that its data was flawed due to miscalculations.

Not everyone is a fan of making these kinds of school comparisons, saying that it is part of the agenda to grade schools for the purpose of identfying some to be closed or converted to charter schools.

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