Archive: March, 2012
UPDATE, 6:35 p.m.
Sheppard and Stanton Elementaries will stay open!
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan has called for an end to the district's Renaissance charter process.
Jordan deviated from testimony he had planned to make to urge Council, at an education committee hearing, to use its influence to help stop the process, which has given multiple district schools to private providers in the past few years.
Inquirer reporter Kristen Graham live tweets from tonight's School Reform Commission meeting in Philadelphia.
Today's the first day of the PSSAs (Pennsylvania System of Standards Assessment) - the all-important statewide exam that determines whether a school is deemed passing or failing under the federal No Child Left Behind law. (I wrote about a state probe of possible cheating on PSSAs this weekend; you can read the story here and see the list of Philadelphia district and charter schools being investigated here.)
Educators, how is your school getting kids ready? Parents, how are your kids feeling about the test?
I put out a query on Twitter earlier today asking the same questions. Here's what I've heard: one Philly educator said her students were nervous but ready. Her principal had given teachers a huge bag of treats - gum, mints, lollipops - as incentives. One parent said his kids' school prescribed lots of rest and a good breakfast, but the kids were still feeling pressure. "All I hear is 'PSSA,'" the dad said.
Up tonight at the School Reform Commission strategy, policy and priority meeting: the Choice, Turnaround and Rightsizing Commitee (rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?) will receive an update on the Great Schools Compact.
The compact, of course, is a document signed late last year by the SRC, the city, and other key players. The compact signers pledge to transform 50,000 seats in low-performing schools with "high-quality" seats in the next five years. It's a commitment, signers say, to good schools in whatever form they might take - charter, district, etc. Philly has already gotten some money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to plan for this work, and it hopes to receive more.
With all the hubbub about the budget, the superintendent search, and decentralization, it's easy to lose sight of what this compact means. But make no mistake - it's significant.
UPDATE, 2:45 p.m.
It's been an emotional day for Sheldon S. Pavel, who recently announced his retirement as president of Central High at the end of the school year. News began leaking out this morning, and by mid-afternoon, every student in the large school knew.
"I've really been blessed," Pavel said of his time at Central. "I've had the opportunity to serve young people over the years, and they are the most extraordinary group of young people that come anywhere. They come in all shapes and sizes and genders and neighborhoods and incomes and religions and politics and ethnicities. It's been one hell of a ride to try and help mix that all together."
Amid allegations of state exam cheating at multiple Philadelphia School District schools, the School Reform Commission on Tuesday appointed a former Temple University president as its "testing integrity advisor." David Adamany will work without pay to "review and monitor the district's current and proposed practicees and procedures for testing security and the administration of the PSSA exam."
The news comes two days after The Inquirer reported about more cheating allegations at Cayuga Elementary. Teachers from Roosevelt Middle School - have also told The Inquirer about what they say is widespread cheating over the past several years.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education and the state Inspector General's office are currently investigating possible PSSA cheating in dozens of schools statewide in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 exams. Sources said that more than 50 Philadelphia schools are being looked at, as well a handful of charters around the region, and schools elsewhere in the state.
Kristen A. Graham
Join Inquirer schools reporter Kristen Graham at 4 p.m. today for a chat about the Philadelphia School District. On a mobile device? Click here to join the chat.