The Philadelphia Story

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Next Wednesday, NCTQ will release its study on teacher policies in The School District of Philadelphia. Our report will focus on what the district is doing right in identifying, supporting and retaining strong teachers, as well as areas where it needs to make changes.

While Philadelphia has made big strides in raising the high school graduation rate in recent years, too many of the city's students still aren't succeeding in school. Less than 50 percent of students scored proficient or advanced on the Pennsylvania System for School Assessment (PSSA) in math and reading in 2012. Recruiting, retaining, and developing more teachers of demonstrated effectiveness is essential if the district is going to improve student performance.

We were happy to see that the district has a strong framework in place to support first-year and struggling non-tenured teachers. First-year teachers get formalized support via a coach (called a consulting teacher) and 2nd and 3rd year teachers who require extra help receive multiple observations by school administrators and central office staff. Our report will go into further detail on the degree to which this framework is achieving its intended goals. 

Other findings will help answer the following critical questions:

1)  Is Philadelphia equipped with the data systems to recruit and retain a high quality teacher workforce?

2)  Are hiring practices helping, or hurting, the district's ability to hire and place the best teachers for the job?

3)  What are the strengths and weaknesses of Pennsylvania's new teacher evaluation system and is Philadelphia prepared to implement it successfully?

4)  Is the school day long enough to truly address both teacher and student needs effectively?

The report makes 35 recommendations to improve teacher quality -- some that the district can do on its own, others that require negotiation with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, as well as a few that require change in state law.  

The final study will be available on our website on May 22nd. We hope that this report catalyzes the changes Philadelphia needs to help its children succeed.