Blog Entries

RFA Responds to Phila. School Advocacy Partners’ Position Paper

On December 5, the Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, or PSAP (an arm of the Philadelphia School Partnership), released a position paper that called for an “aggressive expansion of schools that are achieving results for low-income and minority students.” The document describes what it terms “high-impact” schools and “underperforming” schools. However, RFA found a number of issues with the claims made by PSAP. Click here to read our brief response.

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RFA Launches Phila. Education Research Consortium

An innovative partnership designed to 
provide research and analyses on some
of the city’s most pressing education issues has been forged among the School District of Philadelphia, the city’s charter school sector, and a Philadelphia-based, nationally-respected education research organization.

Research for Action (RFA) received a three-year grant from the William Penn Foundation to establish this partnership–designated the Philadelphia Education Research Consortium, or PERC.

PERC will draw on the rich research expertise in Philadelphia–both within RFA and from three of the city’s major research universities–to conduct research that meets the information needs identified by representatives of Philadelphia’s public schools.

Its creation is groundbreaking for a number of reasons. First, PERC’s research agenda is driven entirely by the city’s school district and charter schools, not the interests of researchers. This orientation will ensure that PERC will provide timely, actionable analysis aligned with the highest priorities of Philadelphia’s educators.

Second, PERC includes an unprecedented partnership with Temple University, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania. The universities will sit on the Research Advisory Committee, and their researchers will participate in PERC projects as well.

“With the launch of PERC, Philadelphia is joining a cadre of other major cities, including Chicago, New York City, Baltimore, and Los Angeles, that have the benefit of an organization devoted exclusively to improving the capacity of its public schools to make evidence-based decisions,” said Kate Shaw, RFA’s executive director and the founding director of PERC. “Philadelphia’s school leaders need support to continue to improve public education even in the face of unprecedented challenges, and RFA is thrilled to lead the effort to provide it.

Directors of three similar research consortia–the Baltimore Education Research Consortium, the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, and the Chicago Consortium for School Research–will also provide strategic guidance.

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RFA’s OST Journal Article Published

RFA’s work to examine out-of-school time (OST) programming and its impact on student outcomes continues to generate attention. A journal article, authored by RFA researchers Tracey Hartmann, Brittan Hallar and Jian Gao, was published today in the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Click here to read the article.

Additionally, this morning, Tracey Hartmann participated on a panel on OST innovations in Philadelphia. The panel, sponsored by PSIJ and in conjunction with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, Department of Human Services, and the Public Health Management Corporation, explored how Philadelphia’s OST sector can continue to innovate in order to meet the needs of students and adapt to local needs and culture.

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RFA Hosts OST Learning Community Workshop

Last Tuesday, RFA hosted a Learning Community Workshop for out-of-school time (OST) providers who are recipients of the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants. The discussion followed the release of the RFA’s 21st CCLC aggregate report which looks at program implementation and student outcomes across 11 provider agencies and 50 sites in Philadelphia. Tuesday’s discussion focused on STEM programming and school partnerships in 21st CCLC programs, topics identified by the providers as areas they would like to discuss. Ten provider agencies, who were 21st CCLC evaluation clients of RFA, were in attendance, as well as representatives from the School District of Philadelphia including central office staff, one principal and one classroom teacher who work with 21st CCLC programs in their schools.



Providers and teachers shared successes, challenges and tangible strategies for effectively implementing STEM OST programs and developing partnerships with schools. Many of the program provider representatives reported finding comfort in knowing they are not alone in their struggles and through this experience, some were able to find solutions to existing problems. Others left with ideas for new programs and methods. However, many questions and concerns about how best to go forward with OST STEM programs and school partnerships remain. This workshop was a meaningful step toward creating a Learning Community of OST providers in which providers can reflect on program practices in the context of research findings and benefit from the shared experience of peer organizations.

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PASA-PASBO Report Documents Impact of Cuts to Education

The Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) today released a report on the impact of education cuts on PA school district budgets. The report confirms what has already been widely reported: that declining investment in education has caused deep cuts to education programs and staff in every corner of the state.

Research for Action administered the survey of school administrators and business officials in all 500 school districts and served as a research partner on the report.

Click here to access the report and PASA/PASBO’s press release.


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