Oversight group says Ackerman reform plans are working

The Accountability Review Council, an independent entity charged with monitoring the district’s reform efforts, will present a report on the progress of Supt. Ackerman’s Imagine 2014 plan during this Wednesday’s School Reform Commission planning meeting.

The report, The Status of 2009-2010 Academic Performance in the School District of Philadelphia and Observations on the Initial Implementation Stage of Renaissance Schools, can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Using PSSA scores in reading and math and the state and federal benchmarks, ARC members sought out whether the school district made progress in meeting expections under No Child Left Behind during the 2009-10 school year and how the Renaissance schools plan impacted students.

The report found that between 2002 and 2010, district students had made gains toward meeting Adequate Yearly Progress.

During that period, the percentage of district schools that met AYP went from nine percent to 59 percent. In 2010, 158 district schools made AYP, up from 51 schools since 2007, according to the report. Though the state continued to have a higher percentage of students scoring Advanced and Proficient than Philadelphia, from 2002 to 2010, district students scoring at those levels in 2009 and 2010 in reading were higher than those of the state for grades four through eight and 11.

In math, the district’s increases outpaced those of the state for grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11.

However, the report states, “the SDP needs to accelerate its pace of improvement in reading, especially in grades 4, 5, 6 and 11, where fewer than 50 percent of the students scored at the Advanced or Proficient levels on the PSSA."

The report also highlights the gap in test scores between the district’s black and Latino students and their white and Asian counterparts.

As for the Renaissance plan, the report recommended the district strengthen its effort to attract more parents and community members to participate in the process. ARC's report said the district should also provide more support to new teachers and to “create a school-wide strategy for promoting a positive climate at the Promise Academies where tardiness increased from 10 to 14 percent.”

To read more from this report, go to this link.

To help get a better understanding of the early stages of the Renaissance plan, ARC commissioned Research for Action, a research and educational policy group, to conduct a study on the process. That report can be found at www.researchforaction.org, this Wednesday as well.

ARC was created in part to fulfill an obligation by the SRC to establish an independent assessment and reporting center of the district. According to ARC's webpage on the district's website, the job of the seven-member panel is to "review and validate SDP education reform initiatives and their impact on student achievement."

Elementary art exhibit at Emlen

An art exhibit showcasing hundreds of student art pieces will be on display May 18 to June 13 at E.C. Emlen Elementary School, 6501 Chew Avenue. The exhibit will kick off the with an evening event open to the community on May 18 at 5p.m.

The program, designed and implemented by Emlen teacher Tania Arch, guides children through different types of literature and the creation of art projects that reflect the stories and lessons learned from each book.

In other district news tidbits

Officials are looking for a few good professionals who can share their experience and expertise with a crop of budding artists during a media conference to be held this Friday at 440.

The purpose of the Philadelphia Youth Media Conference, or PYMC, is to expand the mission of the Philadelphia Youth Film Festival by introducing students to film making, television, radio, theater, internet, photography, print and related industries. A series of workshops, an education and career fair and exhibits are scheduled to occupy youngsters' time and attention.

The Office of High School Reform, Career & Technical Education Division is sponsoring the conference, under the direction of Fortress Communications.

If interested in becoming an industry partner, call 215-292-6994, or reach out to the district's communications office at 215-400-6315.