Philadelphia’s Turnaround School Efforts Score Well

Research study gives good marks to Phila.’s school turnaround effort

By Kristen A. Graham, Inquirer Staff Writer

Philadelphia’s nationally watched school turnaround effort gets high marks from a research study to be released Wednesday. Growth in student achievement and attendance both at district-run overhauled K-8 schools and at those turned over to charters outpaced gains at comparable city schools, the Philadelphia nonprofit Research for Action found.

Though the so-called Renaissance Schools effort is still new, with the first round of 13 schools in the midst of their second year, “those are really notable findings,” said Kate Shaw, Research for Action executive director. “We’re hoping that decisions around the Renaissance School model will be made with this in mind.”

But can the nearly broke Philadelphia School District afford to continue to expand the effort, which requires additional funds from the district’s coffers?

Penny Nixon, the district’s chief academic officer, called the results as highlighted in the Research for Action study “promising” but would not say whether the district would go forward with the Renaissance effort. Renaissance Schools fall into two categories – schools given by the district to charters to overhaul, and district-run Promise Academies, which operate with extra per-pupil funding. The schools were the signature initiative of former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman.


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