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Once & For All: Placing a Highly Qualified Teacher in Every Philadelphia Classroom

This report examines the current status of teacher quality in the city and what the School District of Philadelphia is now doing to ensure that all classrooms have highly trained, motivated, and knowledgeable teachers ready to boost the achievement of the district’s 188,000 students.The report shows that teacher quality in Philadelphia has not been what it could be and has been exacerbated by policies and practices that undermine the capacity to ensure that every child has a highly qualified teacher. The data presented in the report show a disturbing picture of teacher attrition, reliance on lesser-qualified teachers, and inequities in the assignment of qualified teachers to schools with large percentages of low-income children. These patterns are reflective of other urban systems nationwide. However, Philadelphia’s hiring and school assignment systems are unusually centralized because of collective bargaining rules, a situation that sharply limits the ability of schools and teachers to forge a good employment match. However, knowledgeable observers and school officials expect that the new administration’s aggressive pursuit of a teacher-focused strategy of improvement should lead to a reduction in teacher turnover and less reliance on emergency-certified teachers.