Great Schools Compact Committee Announces Launch of Urban School Leadership Institute

PhillyPLUS will train transformational new leaders for public, charter, and private schools

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia Great Schools Compact Committee today announced the launch of the Philadelphia Pathway to Leadership in Urban Schools (PhillyPLUS), a new school leadership residency-based program to recruit, select, prepare, and certify outstanding principals across all sectors including District, charter, and Catholic schools.

“To ensure every student in Philadelphia is prepared for college and the work world, we need a stronger pipeline of urban school leaders,” said Dr. Lori Shorr, the City’s Chief Education Officer and the Great Schools Compact Committee Chair. “In each of Philadelphia’s most successful schools, we find great leaders who create learning environments that are safe and that empower teachers and students to make transformative academic gains. This program will help us build on the experience and knowledge of our best District, charter, and private school principals in training the next generation of leaders.”

The Great Schools Compact Committee created PhillyPLUS in response to District, charter, and private school leaders citing a tremendous need for high-caliber school leaders. The School District typically hires between 30 and 50 new principals annually, and the city’s charter schools typically hire between five and 10 citywide. Similarly, Catholic schools hire approximately five principals every year. The summer institute will launch this year with a cohort of 15 fellows this year, and it will expand to certify 50 to 60 candidates annually for principal jobs in the city’s urban schools that serve predominantly low-income students.

To date, 65 educators of diverse backgrounds and ethnicity have applied for the first cohort. On average, applicants have over seven years of teaching experience, and about half are currently teaching in Philadelphia’s public schools. PhillyPLUS is reviewing and accepting applicants for 2013 on a rolling basis.

“Recruiting and developing strong school leaders is essential to creating a system of excellent schools,” said Dr. William Hite, Superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “Our best principals are creating high-quality teaching and learning environments and PhillyPLUS leverages their skills and experience to cultivate more great leaders. We believe many of our new school leaders will come directly from District classrooms, and PhillyPLUS will allow our best educators to hone their leadership skills under an effective principal and complete the program prepared to serve as effective school leaders.”

The Compact Committee studied multiple high-performing principal preparation programs in Philadelphia and around the country and selected TNTP, a national nonprofit committed to ending educational inequality, as the lead partner to help design and implement PhillyPLUS. Following recruitment and selection, PhillyPLUS residents will attend six weeks of intensive training during the summer followed by a year of practitioner-based coaching and development. The residents will serve as an assistant principal under a highly-qualified mentor school leader.

“PhillyPLUS builds on past efforts in the District and elsewhere to build high-quality principal training programs by providing aspiring leaders access to practical experience that is focused on instructional leadership and management,” said Dr. Karen J. Kolsky, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Talent Development at School District of Philadelphia, who has helped lead the development of this program with the Compact Committee. “Rather than just shadowing leaders, residents are given the responsibility to manage a team of teachers and held accountable for impacting teacher effectiveness and student achievement. They will also collaborate with their mentor principal to make management decisions about budget, staffing, and school operations.”

“Many of Philadelphia’s charter schools have expressed a need recruit and develop talented educators to fill leadership roles within the next couple years,” said David Rossi, CEO of Esperanza Academy Charter High School and member of the Great Schools Compact Committee. “PhillyPLUS plans to select highly qualified participants from a diverse, competitive pool and prepare them with real-world experience to be effective charter school principals and instructional leaders.”

PhillyPLUS is an approved Principal Preparation Program by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PhillyPLUS is one of three Great Schools Compact initiatives funded in part through a $2.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Philadelphia School Partnership serves as the project manager of the Compact Committee and raises funds to support its initiatives, including PhillyPLUS.

Interested applicants and partners can visit for more information.

The Great Schools Compact is a joint commitment of school providers and education leaders to ensure that policies, strategies and resources align to a common goal of providing a high-performing school option for every child. The Compact is signed by The School District of Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools, Philadelphia Charters for Excellence, Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as a commitment to share responsibility and work together to expand high-quality K-12 school options and dramatically reduce the number of chronically underperforming schools by 2016-17. The Compact Committee oversees the implementation of the Compact tenants and leads working groups around five key areas: talent, facilities, accountability, universal enrollment, and shared services. The Philadelphia School Partnership serves as the project manager of the Compact Committee, which is chaired by the Mayor’s Chief Education Officer. To review the Great Schools Compact and learn more, please visit

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