School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Times of diminishing resources require an even greater commitment to equity.
Over the last three years, students, families, and employees in The School District of Philadelphia have rallied towards that goal in innumerable ways. The Action Plan has mirrored the progress, prospects, and challenges of the District. In the first version, our focus was on improving our academic offerings and stabilizing our finances. Last year's plan expanded our work on core concerns like early literacy and graduation rates. Now is the time to ensure that every child is part of the gains we make. Action Plan v3.0 is an effort to deliver on our vision for equity. That vision is outlined in the pages ahead, embodied in a new approach to lifting the achievement of every student, wherever they live and whatever their background. Our plan also envisions repairing our structural budget challenges in collaboration with our government partners.
I am gratified by the work and dedication of employees at every level of the organization to support our students and schools. Our educators and administrators have spent an incredible amount of time and energy to serve our more than 130,000 students and their families, and to make the most of our resources. The current plan, v3.0, would not be possible without them and builds on their efforts.
So what have we accomplished together?
In the area of high-quality instruction, we have aligned our reading and math curricula to state standards and provided educators with more classroom resources and tools for improvement, such as new curricular materials for all grades, including informational and literary texts and math resources designed to build conceptual understanding. We have rolled out School Progress Reports reflecting core values and aspirations for all schools, and begun to use these reports in our System of Great Schools annual decision-making approach to supporting and responding to schools. With our educators, we have successfully continued the implementation of the Educator Effectiveness System and teacher and principal training on all elements of the system. And we have made significant improvements in our hiring and selection systems: we have redesigned the principal hiring process, including a robust recruitment plan and competency rubric; and we have implemented complete site selection for teaching vacancies and a process for seniority exceptions in the assignment and transfer process. To ensure school environments that are conducive to learning, we have expanded our Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) and Restorative Practices programs to 33 schools with the greatest need.
Also, we are proud to have made strong headway in our coordination of early literacy efforts. Early literacy is an important indicator for future success for all children, and we have joined with local organizations to enhance reading proficiency in pre-kindergarten through third grades. This has included the hiring and training of school-based literacy specialists for the schools that need them the most, and the adoption of other instructional supports and tools to accelerate our progress on early literacy. We have further promoted early literacy through the formation of Anchor Goal-aligned partnerships, and offered training sessions for parents in select schools regarding early literacy and supports that can be provided at home.
Over the past year, we have also continued to offer new opportunities for students and families focused on meeting student needs. For example, we successfully launched our online school application process, generating 3,000 more applications than we received in the prior year. We created an elementary dual-language bilingual program and began the conversion of five transitional bilingual programs to dual-language programs. We designed and opened three new open-admission high schools implementing personalized, competency-based learning models. We also selected the first four schools for our exciting new School Redesign Initiative, and have worked hard to support those school communities in their locally-developed transformation efforts. With parents, we have facilitated School Advisory Council (SAC) formation and elections, bringing to 127 the schools with active SACs. We have also re-committed to gathering actionable information from our parents, families and students through the revival of our Action Plan-aligned District-wide student and parent surveys.
Finally, we have made progress obtaining the necessary resources to adequately serve our students and families. We have a long way to go, but we are proud and grateful for the work of our funding partners on behalf of our students. With them, we secured almost $200 million per year in additional, recurring revenues from legislative approval of sales and cigarette taxes. At the local school level, we mapped existing District-community partnerships alongside local school needs in order to better match generous community resources with local school communities, and to prepare for a more strategic deployment of partners' support to further District goals.
I hope my message is clear: we have accomplished a tremendous amount together, and built a solid foundation for the next phase of our work. We are justifiably proud, and I am grateful and humbled by what our team members have accomplished to serve our children and families. Make no mistake, though: we have much, much more to do together.
The latest update to the Action Plan reflects this challenge, and details our efforts to build on our prior work and design a system that better serves the needs of our diverse students and their communities. Our charge is unchanged: Every child can learn. Every school can be great. To enable both, we must ensure equity throughout the School District. I hope the pages ahead spark and renew your personal commitment to furthering that work.
Dr. William Hite
March 4, 2015