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August 25, 2004 Extra Credit
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August 25, 2004

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Philadelphia’s Improved Student Achievement Brings a "Sense of Hope"

The following are excerpts from an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer highlighting the improved student achievement in Philadelphia in particular and Pennsylvania as a whole:

"In a dramatic improvement, the Philadelphia School District nearly tripled the number of schools that met achievement requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind law, statistics released yesterday show. The success mirrored statewide improvements. Of the district’s 264 schools, 160 met the mark for making ‘adequate yearly progress,’ which is based largely on test scores, graduation and attendance rates. Only 58 were at the standard in the 2003 report. This is the second year that the state has identified schools that need improvement."

"In Philadelphia - which was taken over by the state three years ago because of dismal academic performance and financial struggle - education advocates were thrilled. ‘I think we’ve given people a sense of hope that we can turn around an urban school system,’ said State Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.), speaking at a news conference at school district headquarters. In Pennsylvania, more than 86 percent of the state’s schools - up from 63 percent last year - met the requirements in 2004."

"Overall, 55 suburban [Philadelphia] schools among 455 were on the 2004 state watch list, compared with more than twice that number - 117 - on the list last year. And although some schools needed to do little more than boost attendance rates this last year, others needed students to work hard to improve math and reading scores."

"In Philadelphia, improvement was charted in all kinds of district schools - those run by outside managers, such as Edison Schools Inc., charter schools and regular district schools. The results show that each partner’s unique approach under the district’s managed instruction model has contributed to today’s success,’ said James Nevels, chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission."

"Of the 45 city schools run by outside managers, 23 met the performance standards, up from seven last year.… The district’s elementary schools did the best; more than 70 percent hit the mark. About 38 percent of high schools and 46.5 percent of middle schools did so. The district also saw improvement in schools meeting the standards for two consecutive years, going from 39 to 70."

"Paul Vallas, district chief executive officer, cited three reasons for the improvement: the standardized curriculum and periodic testing system; increased instructional time spent on reading and math; and review teams that visited schools regularly and assessed performance."

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 03/28/2008