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The Philadelphia Story: Challenge, Opportunity and Promise

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Title: The Philadelphia Story: Challenge, Opportunity and Promise


1
The Philadelphia StoryChallenge, Opportunity
and Promise
  • Gregory E. Thornton Ed.D.
  • Chief Academic Officer
  • School District of Philadelphia

2
Critical Success Factors
  • Meeting the challenges of scalability and
    sustainability
  • Developing high-performance organizational
    practices
  • Building the human infrastructure
  • Creating a network of strategic partnerships
  • Challenging and changing limiting beliefs

3
  • Some Context. . . .
  • Who We Are, Where We Are

4
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Population 1.5 Million
  • 135 Square Miles
  • White-45
  • African American-43
  • Latino- 8.5
  • Asian-4.5

5
The School District of Philadelphia A
Demographic Snapshot
  • 256,000 Students
  • Seventh largest school district in America
  • 263 Schools (including 38 externally managed
    schools)
  • 10 geographic regions, 1 thematic region
    (lowest-performing schools)
  • 20,000 total staff, of which 12,000 are
    teachers
  • Infrastructure average building age, 75 years
    98 classroom connectivity to the Internet
  • Greying workforce

6
The School District of Philadelphia A
Demographic Snapshot
  • Number of Students by Race
  • African-American 65.5
  • Asian 5.3
  • Hispanic 14.5
  • Native American .2
  • White 14.2
  • Schools
  • 175 Elementary schools, including
  • 43 Middle schools
  • 43 Neighborhood and magnet high schools
  • 5 Vocational-technical schools
  • 7 Special schools

7
2001-2002
  • A district in both academic and financial
    distress
  • Taken over by the State of Pennsylvania (2001)
  • School Board dismissed significant loss of
    local control
  • School Reform Commission Appointed
  • 3 State, 2 local appointments
  • Near outsourcing of the entire District to a
    single, for-profit educational management
    organization
  • Adoption of a the mixed management model

8
New Mixed Management Model
  • Largest urban public educational out-sourcing
    program in the nation
  • 38 of 263 schools externally managed
  • Managed by 7 educational management
    organizations (EMOs)
  • Some for profit (4)
  • Some non-profit (3, including U. of Pennsylvania
    and Temple U.)
  • In addition to the 38 EMOs 57 independent,
    publicly-funded charter schools
  • Combine to create an urban educational
    marketplace environment
  • EMOs, Charters and the District schools
    competing to demonstrate improved performance and
    student success
  • Rationale Competition will produce increase
    performance and tease out the best models of
    reform
  • Increased choice for parents

9
2002 New Leadership, New Thought
  • Arrival of Paul Vallas from Chicago as a new
    Chief Executive Officer
  • Committed to creating a more coherent district
    and replicating effective practices from other
    urban districts
  • Council of Great City Schools report
  • Large scale reforms with significant changes in
    strategy
  • Re-centralization of curriculum and programs
    reduction from 22 clusters to 11 Regions
  • Commitment to coherence The alignment of what is
    taught and what is tested
  • Rigorous new requirements of No Child Left Behind
  • Renewed interest in the use of data to structure
    improvement efforts
  • Significant new capital programs

10
  • Reform
  • Regeneration

11
Regeneration and Sustainability
  • In a study of 57 district in the 1990s
  • Mean district 11.4 major reforms over a
    three-year period!
  • Urban focus tends to be on programs, not results
  • Urban focus tends to be on change, rather than
    measurable improvement
  • Can we produce desired results and sustain those
    results?
  • Regeneration
  • Generative, continuously growing, replicable
    improvement, reconnection, recovery of purpose
  • Reform should lead to regeneration often it
    doesnt
  • Often, urban districts exhibit reform fatigue
  • Marginal or mock compliance, deep
    skepticism/cynicism, political posturing
  • Staying the course Phi Delta Kappa and Fullans
    8-10 year model

12
Reform and Regeneration
13
Sustainability Cyclical Energizing
  • Michael Fullan notes that sustainability,
    paradoxically, is not linear
  • It is cyclical for two fundamental reasons
  • Sustaining energy
  • Wide, periodic plateaus, where additional time
    and ingenuity are required for the next
    breakthrough

14
03-04 Core Curriculum/ IMS introduced
District-wide Math and Literacy (Grades K-9)
03-04 Benchmark testing/ IMS introduced
District-wide Math and Literacy (Grades 2-9)
04-05 Core Curriculum introduced grades 10-12
Benchmark Pilot In 21 low-performing schools
04-05 Benchmark testing introduced Grades 10-11
15
Number of SDP Schools Meeting Adequate Yearly
Progress Criteria
)
16
Fullans Seven Sustainability Principals
  • Public service with moral purpose
  • Commitment to changing context at all levels
  • Lateral capacity building through networks
  • Intelligent accountability and vertical
    relationships
  • Deep learning
  • Dual commitment to short-term and long-term
    results
  • Cyclical energizing

17
  • Creating a High Performance Organization

18
Benchmarking
Continuous Improvement PDSA
Input
Process
Output
  • Both PDSA and Benchmarking focus on process
    improvement
  • Benchmaking focuses more on replacing practices
    than refining practices

19
Organizational Benchmarking
  • Benchmarking is one of the few organizational
    practices that has been validated as key driver
    for improvement
  • Used when a radical improvement is needed or best
    practices around adaptive challenge are not
    clear
  • Research must be conducted rigorously
  • American Productivity and Quality Center Open
    Standards Benchmarking Collaborative-Process
    Classification Framework
  • 23 US Districts more than 3 million students

20
A Study of Improving Districts Paul Vallas
brings CGCS framework to SDP 2002 to structure
reform Framework based on Foundations For
Success Case Studies of How Urban School
Systems Improve Student Achievement Published
by the Council of Great City Schools (September
2002) Study examined what Improving districts
have in common Nine common characteristics
were identified
21
The Nine Common Characteristics
  • 1. They focused on student achievement and
    specific achievement goals
  • 2. They created concrete accountability systems
    that went beyond what the states had established
  • 3.They focused on the lowest-performing schools
  • 4.They adopted or developed district-wide
    curricula and instructional approaches
  • 5.They supported these district-wide strategies
    at the central office
  • 6.They drove reforms into the classroom by
    defining a new role for central office
  • 7.They committed themselves to data-driven
    decision-making and instruction
  • 8.They started their reforms at the elementary
    grade levels
  • 9.They provided intensive instruction in reading
    and math to middle and high school students

22
1. They focused on specific achievement goals
23
Selected 2008 Declaration of Education Goals
  • Safe and Orderly Environment
  • 95 of respondents on an annual survey will
    indicate they feel safe at school
  • 100 of schools will score a grade B or better
    on the Districts Safe Schools Audit
  • Equity
  • 100 of schools will have equity in facilities,
    programs and resources
  • 100 of all high schools will offer honors and
    Advanced Placement courses
  • 100 of District teachers and para-professionals
    will be highly qualified for their positions
  • Academic Achievement
  • 80 of all students in grades 3-11 will perform
    at or above the proficient level in reading,
    mathematics and science
  • Average SAT and ACT scores will meet or exceed
    the national average
  • 85 of all high school students will graduate
  • 80 of graduating seniors will enroll in
    postsecondary educational institutions
  • Disparity based on race, ethnicity, gender and
    socioeconomic status will be less than 10
    percentage points on all academic measures

24
2. They created concrete accountability systems
25
Balanced Scorecard
The Vision The School District of Philadelphia
will provide a high quality education that
prepares, ensures and empowers all students to
achieve their full intellectual and social
potential in order to become lifelong learners
and productive members of society.
26
Balanced Scorecard A closer look
27
System Misalignment Random Acts of Improvement
SRC Vision
GOALS
Process
28
System Alignment Aligned Acts of Improvement,
Coordination of Effort
SRC Vision
GOALS
Processes
29
Alignment of Goals, Initiatives, Action Plan
Backward, Measure Forward
Plan
Measure
30
Accountability and Use of Data
  • What we measure communicates what we value
  • If you dont measure it, you dont really value
    it. . .If you dont measure it, you cant
    improve it
  • -Harry and Schroeder, Six Sigma
  • We must ask Are our great ideas and great plans
    yielding truly great results?
  • Continuous improvement is not possible without
    alignment and clearly defined and practiced
    in-process measures of progress

31
3. They focused on the lowest-performing schools.
32
CEOs Region
  • Non-geographic
  • 14 of the lowest performing schools, with a
    history of resistance to change and improvement
  • Intensive diagnostic for each school via case
    study
  • Research and project support Johns Hopkins
    Universitys Center for Data Driven Reform in
    Education
  • Design of high performance systems of
    differentiated supports and interventions
  • Extended Learning Opportunities
  • Rigorous School-wide Behavioral Support
  • Empowering Parent Training Based Union
    partnership
  • Options Removing staff, restructuring
  • End of the Continuum of Support

33
Continuum of Services Supporting School
Improvement
34
4. District-wide curricula and instructional
approaches
35
Core Curriculum Rationale
  • Need for equity and coherence
  • Highly transient student population (Up to 35)
  • Hard to staff schools
  • Significant influx on new teachers yearly
  • Variations in school leadership quality
  • Need for communities of common practice

36
Core Curriculum Overview
  • Clear performance targets for students defined in
    six week chunks
  • Described a week at a time
  • Designed in coordination with district-wide
    textbook and program adoption, but not textbook
    based
  • Benchmark assessment in week 5
  • Test results back by the end of week 5
  • Week six for reteaching, remediation, enrichment
  • Focus on maintaining a rich and broad curriculum
    in the face of rigorous testing standards focused
    on content knowledge in math and reading
  • Not impoverished or unreasonably narrowed

37
5. They effectively supported these district-wide
strategies at the central office
38
Academy for Leadership in Philadelphia
SchoolsALPS
  • Aspiring principals, year 1 and year 2 principals
  • One year residency program for aspiring
    principals
  • Intensive professional development and mentoring
    for year 1 and 2 principals
  • Supported by the Broad Foundation

39
Distributed Leadership Program
  • Committed to the development of authentic
    learning communities
  • Seeding and networking across the District
  • Teacher leadership capacity-building
  • Fostering new models of school governance and
    shared accountability

40
6. Redefined the role of central office
41
7. They committed themselves to data-driven
decision-making and instruction
42
The Goal Turn. . .
  • We often lose discipline on this last step
  • How do we know if we have succeeded?
  • Are the measures clear and well defined from the
    start?
  • Did we define the instruments, the method, the
    frequency, the persons responsible?

43
Leveraging Technology The Instructional
Management System
Provides One-Stop ONLINE Access to Instructional
and Performance Information
Standards-based Curriculum
Standardized Benchmark Test Results
Student Profiles
Instructional Resources
44
School District of Philadelphia IMS Overview
Administrators
Teachers
Parents
Students
District Curriculum
Assessment Data
Student Data
State Standards
Instructional Materials
Instructional Management System
PSSA
Student Information
Report Card Data
TerraNova/ Supera
DIBELS
Benchmarks
Instructional Resources
Curriculum
45
Benchmark Testing Online Student Item Analysis
46
Item Analysis
Standard statement
Student score
47
Item Analysis
Class average percent correct
48
Data AnalysisProtocolBenchmark Reflection
49
Data AnalysisProtocolBenchmark Reflection
50
SchoolStat A Corporate-University-School System
Partnership
Data into Knowledge. Knowledge into
Action. Action into Improvement.
SchoolStat
51
SchoolStat Meeting Process
  • The school is the unit of analysis
  • Before the meeting
  • Data are extracted for each school
  • Data are analyzed and observations are reported
    in an executive briefing sheet
  • During the meeting
  • Regional superintendent leads 5-10 principals
    with like schools through a discussion based on
    data
  • Trends are noted for each metric
  • Reasons are explored strategies are cited
  • Best practices and experiences are shared
  • Action plans are developed
  • Timelines for assessment of action are set
  • After the meeting
  • Results are reported at next meeting in an
    ongoing cycle
  • Accountability and professional developmental
    support

52
Actionable, Timely Data The SchoolStat
Principals Monthly Dashboard
53
Principals Dashboard and SchoolStat Part of
the Performance Management Process
Actionable Dashboard Data
Planned Strategies in Action
SchoolStat Meetings
The Continuous Improvement Cycle
Analysis, Sharing of Practices, Action Planning,
Assessment
54
Purposes of Performance Assessment
Balance of strategies and measuresAcross all
levels of the system
55
8. Started at the elementary level
56
9. Intensive instruction in math and reading in
middle and high school
57
  • Some Key Lessons Learned
  • Using the CGCS Framework

58
Our business of education must now operate more
like a high-performance business
  • Driven by limited resources for urban systems and
    the moral imperatives around equity
  • Measurement by fact, strategic planning,
    high-quality project management, continuous
    improvement and the use of quality tools are
    new competencies and values that systems must
    adopt to raise the bar for underserved student
    populations
  • Creating a high-performance organization in the
    context of bureaucracy, politics, union work
    rules, entrenched habits and beliefs is a
    challengebut, it is a challenge that must be
    faced

59
We must answer the professional development
challenge
  • We need to make a massive commitment to the
    continuous development of the people who will
    teach our children and lead our educational
    organizations at all levels
  • We need new models of professional development to
    meet the complex challenges of the urban
    environment
  • Our human capital is the capital that will make
    the real difference

60
Urban schools systems need a network of diverse,
strategic, and innovative partnerships in order
to improve
  • This network must include the parents, the
    community, churches, local business,
    corporations, foundations, vendors, universities,
    labor unions and political representatives
  • Each of these stakeholders must be invited into
    the process in innovative ways
  • Each of these stakeholders must invest in the
    process of educating our children in
    unprecedented ways, if we are to solve our
    unprecedented and complex challenges
  • We must rebuild a relationship of trust with the
    community we must engage disengaged parents

61
Sustainability is critical
  • If political instability is a given, then we must
    create strategies for institutionalization and
    sustainability of positive change and improvement
  • This is our greatest challenge not just
    improving systems, but transforming them and
    insulating them from the political forces that
    would not put children first
  • Improvement must be institutionalized and outlive
    its champions

62
Limiting beliefs must be challenged and changed
  • What teachers and administrators believe about
    their own efficacy matters
  • What teachers and administrators believe about
    the potential and future of students matters
  • What teachers and administrators believe about
    cultural, racial, and socio-economic factors
    matters
  • What we believe matters

63
Deep Learning and Closing the Gap
-
-
  • New Materials
  • Core Curriculum
  • Course Modules
  • Adopted Materials
  • Benchmark Tests
  • New Behaviors and Practices
  • High quality curriculum implementation
  • Skills for teaching to proficiency
  • Differentiated strategies for
  • underperforming student groups
  • Planning and teaching for diversity

Effort
Time

  • New Beliefs
  • Deep beliefs regarding
  • Student capacity
  • Student needs
  • Teacher efficacy
  • High and clear expectations for students and self

Adaped from Fullan, M. (2001 a) The New Meaning
of Educational Change, 3rd Edition. New York
Teachers College Press.
64
We must maintain our sense of urgency, while
cultivating the deep organizational discipline
necessary to create sustainable improvement. We
owe our children and our community nothing less.
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