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Going Small: Start Up and Early Implementation of Small High Schools in Philadelphia

The summary of findings from year one of Research for Action’s study, ‘Going Small: Public Private Collaboration in Restructuring High School Education in Philadelphia’ provides a brief introduction and background to Philadelphia’s small high schools. The study examines 26 newly created or significantly changed small high schools in Philadelphia. Small schools are defined by the School District of Philadelphia as having fewer than 700 students. Findings from year one show that the District has made a great deal happen without significant outside funding for systemic change. However, one consequence of this lack of resources has been inconsistent and less than ideal start-up for many of the small schools. Early research indicates both promising trends and causes for concern. While promising trends include innovation, energy, momentum, and new high school options, there is concern regarding whether adequate resources and the necessary flexibility are available to fully implement small high schools so they can have a considerable impact on student achievement.