Thanks to The Philadelphia School Partnership

16 Oct

Notes from the Field

Submitted by Frank Murphy: October 16, 2012

The Philadelphia School Partnership has gone live with a new website that ranks schools in the city of Philadelphia according to five categories:

Academics (based on standardized test results in Reading and Math: PSSA {public and charter schools} Terra Nova {parochial schools})

Safety (based on fewest number of self reported serious incidents)

Student Attendance (self reported)

Achievement Gap (“an indicator of a school’s record in helping students of limited financial means learn”) It is not clear what this indicator means or how the gap is determined.

College Bound (how many high school graduates enroll in 2 or 4- year college in the year after high school) It is not clear if this is also self-reported.

This site lists nearly all of the public, charter and parochial schools in the city.  Each school reviewed received an overall score in addition to a score for each of the above listed categories.  The highest score a school can receive is ten.  The lowest score is one.

When you go onto the site, first check a school configuration category.  Your choices are Elementary, Middle School and High School.  After you have made this selection, click on search.  You will be told how many schools are included in this category and they will be listed according to their overall score from highest to lowest.

This feature alone offers a tremendous insight into what standardized test score reporting really tells us about the differences between schools.  And for the most part it’s all about the money.    As you scroll from the best ranked to the lowest rank schools in any of the grade configurations, you can easily identify where the more economically well-to-do neighborhoods of the city are located.   You can also see which schools serve a greater percentage of children from a higher socio-economic status.  It is pretty clear when examining the information on this website that the children who reside in our more affluent neighborhoods are the ones who score at the highest test performance levels.

This correlation between family income levels and student test performance is quite apparent when you look at the rankings of the elementary parochial schools included on the Philadelphia School Partnership’ web site.   Parochial schools such as Our Mother of Consolation (Chestnut Hill), St Mary Interparachoal School (Society Hill), Immaculate Heart of Mary School (East Falls/Andorra/Roxborough), Maternity BVM School (Bustleton), and Saint Cecilia School (Fox Chase) all have an overall ranking of either nine or a ten.

Parochial schools located in high poverty communities such as Gesu (North Central), Saint Malachy (North Central), Our Mother of Sorrows/St. Ignatius School (West Philadelphia), Visitation BVM (Kensington), St. Martin de Porres School (North Philadelphia) have been ranked as either as four or fives.

The ranks of these schools are similar to the ranks of the charter and public schools that service children from the same communities.

The Philadelphia School Partnership’s new website provides a clear graphic of the relationship between a neighborhood’s overall socio-economic status and the overall results of the standardized test results of the children who reside in a community.  This relationship is consistent across public, parochial and charter schools.

The Philadelphia School Partnership’s findings certainly suggest that wealth rather than quality of education is responsible for achievement differences in schools.  Thanks to the Philadelphia School Partnership for pointing out this troubling disparity.  Now how do we go about closing this wealth/poverty achievement gap they have described?






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