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Boosting Adolescent and Young Adult Literacy: An Examination of Literacy Teaching and Learning in Philadelphia’s Accelerated High Schools

In 2010-11, the School District of Philadelphia (the District) operated thirteen accelerated high schools that served approximately 2,000 under-credited, over-age students. Each of the accelerated schools was managed by one of seven external providers, each with its own educational approach, and each with a contractual agreement with the District’s Office of Multiple Pathways (OMP).In 2009, the OMP, in conjunction with the dropout prevention and recovery city-wide effort entitled Project U-Turn, strongly encouraged every accelerated school to develop a focus on literacy. Many of the students entering the accelerated schools were low-level readers, and those most closely involved with efforts to reduce student dropout strongly believed that improvement of students’ reading, writing and oral communication was critical to perseverance to graduation.This report examines the development of a focus on literacy in Philadelphia’s accelerated high schools. To support the focus on literacy, the OMP, in partnership with Project U-Turn, and Jobs for the Future (JFF), adopted of the JFF Common Instructional Framework, which is a set of six instructional strategies that work together as a cross-content approach to improving literacy learning. The Framework was accompanied by professional development and coaching, as well as ’rounds’ – the practice of teachers visiting each others’ classrooms in order to observe, share and form professional communities of practice.