Update on The School District of Philadelphia

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Editor’s note: In our June 2004 issue, we published an Applications article highlighting The School District of Philadelphia and its use of the Kaplan Achievement Planner. The following article is a postscript from the author of that article, Dr. Creg E. Williams.

At the end of the first year of our intensive effort to move toward data-driven instruction on a wide scale, we see strong signs of promise that confirm our direction. Our district uses TerraNova from CTB/McGraw-Hill to benchmark annual progress, and across two important measures we have seen significant improvement. From spring 2003 to spring 2004, ninth-grade TerraNova scores showed a significant increase in the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level in mathematics, language and reading with gains of 9.2%, 6.1% and 5.8%, respectively.

In addition to this positive trend, more of the lowest-performing students demonstrated encouraging growth as the number of ninth-graders scoring in the bottom quartile on these tests decreased in the aforementioned subjects by 9.8%, 8.4% and 7.6%, respectively. The School District of Philadelphia showed positive results across all grades, and it was particularly gratifying that our ninth-graders posted increases on all six measures.

This past year has been only the beginning of what will be a long, sustained reform effort. Yet, we are convinced that our work to establish consistent cycles of quality instruction and formative assessment, as well as further instruction tailored to meet student needs, will result in even higher levels of achievement by Philadelphia high school students.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.

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