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Closing the Teacher Quality Gap in Philadelphia: New Hope and Old Hurdles

This study of teacher staffing issues in the School District of Philadelphia, the third in a series, outlines the degree to which the district has succeeded in upgrading teachers’ professional credentials, recruiting and retaining them, and equitably distributing experienced and credentialed teachers across all types of schools. Since the passage of NCLB and the state’s takeover of the district in 2001, the district has succeeded in improving the certification rates of its teachers, especially new teachers, and in drastically cutting the number of emergency-certified teachers and classroom vacancies. It has also improved new teacher retention and has modernized and decentralized its hiring process. At the same time, it has not been able to change the pattern of having the least qualified teachers in schools serving the highest percentages of poor and minority students nor its poor long-term rate of teacher retention. The district is also challenged to speed up and simplify its hiring and school placement process and to hire more minority teachers.