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Philadelphia-Based Research and Evaluation Projects and Publications

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An Evaluation of the Picasso Schoolwide Model

RFA is partnering with Public Citizens for Children + Youth (PCCY) to evaluate the impact of the Picasso program’s School-Based Grant in three pilot schools. Picasso’s School-Based Grant provides schools with up to three years…

RFA’s Evaluation of Outcomes in City Year Philadelphia Schools

RFA is partnering with City Year Philadelphia to analyze of the academic, attendance, and behavioral outcomes of students in their partner schools. City Year Philadelphia places 200+ corps members in schools to support school-wide and…

Evaluating Philadelphia’s Community Schools Initiative

RFA was selected as the external evaluator for Philadelphia's Community Schools initiative, a hallmark of Mayor Jim Kenney's education agenda. The initiative provides a comprehensive set of social services and supports for schoolchildren and communities.…

Comprehensive School Safety Initiative: Discipline in School Contexts

This 18-month, mixed-methods, exploratory study, conducted in partnership with the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, will have three phases: 1) Qualitative inquiry across K-8 schools in Philadelphia; 2) Latent class analysis to identify “profiles”…

Community Schools Progress Report

Research for Action worked in partnership with the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education to establish a Community Schools Progress Report to be utilized in the context of Philadelphia's Community Schools initiative. The Progress Report uses…

An Evaluation of Congreso de Latinos Unidos’ Exito Program at Kensington CAPA High School

RFA is partnering with Congreso de Latinos Unitos to evaluate its Exito program at Kensington CAPA High School in Philadelphia. Exito uses a multi-pronged approach to provide case management and after-school programming to students at…

Examining the Fiscal Impact of Charter School Expansion

As charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania rises, understanding the fiscal impact of charter school expansion is critical for school districts to accurately budget and to anticipate current and future costs. RFA, with generous funding from…

Evaluating Women in Natural Sciences for the Academy of Natural Sciences

RFA is serving as the evaluator for the Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS) Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) project. Since its inception in 1982, WINS has introduced more than 770 Philadelphia girls to careers in…

Evaluating the Philadelphia Academies’ All-Academy High School Model

Research for Action partnered with Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI) to evaluate the All-Academy model in two Philadelphia public high schools. PAI has served as a high school, postsecondary, and career readiness resource for nearly 50…

Examining a Math Intervention in Philadelphia Schools: An RCT in Partnership with RAND

RFA is partnering with RAND to conduct an RCT on a math intervention in nine Philadelphia high schools. The math intervention, ALEKS, is a web-based intelligent tutoring system being used in 20 Algebra I classrooms…

STEM Training for Philadelphia Teachers: An Evaluation Funded by the National Science Foundation

RFA serves as the external evaluator for the GRASP-Teacher Partnership in Robotics Education (TPRE) project funded by the National Science Foundation. TPRE provides 6th-8th grade Philadelphia teachers a six-week summer engineering and robotics research experience…

Integrative Arts Programs in Philadelphia: An Examination of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program in Four Public Schools

RFA served as the evaluator of an arts integration initiative launched by Philadelphia’s nationally-renowned Mural Arts Program. This two-year, mixed-methods study identified successes, challenges and lessons learned as this initiative is implemented in four Philadelphia…

Artwell’s HeartBeat Program: An Evaluation of an Elementary School Music Education Initiative

RFA served as the evaluator for a program providing weekly music education to K-5 students in Philadelphia public schools.

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program: Effects on Traditional and Incarcerated Students

RFA conducted a preliminary evaluation of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange program at Temple University. For over a decade, Inside-Out had been training university faculty to teach courses within adult correctional facilities across the United States…

When the Maker Movement Meets STEAM: Evaluating Maker Jawn in Philadelphia’s Free Library

RFA served as an evaluator for the Free Library of Philadelphia’s intergenerational STEAM initiative, which provides creative library spaces for community members in underserved North Philadelphia neighborhoods.

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC)

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium—or PERC—was launched in August 2014 as an innovative partnership designed to provide research and analyses on some of the city’s most pressing education issues. This partnership was forged among the…

Tracking the Implementation and Success of Academically-Oriented After-School Programs: 21st Century Grants

The 21st Century grant program of the U.S. Department of Education supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. RFA…

An Evaluation of How Science Leadership Academy Graduates and Preparedness for Postsecondary STEM Majors

RFA was commissioned by The Franklin Institute and Science Leadership Academy in spring 2011 to research how the first cohort of graduates from SLA fared as they entered postsecondary institutions. This study has a special…

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research: Translating Research and Analysis for Education Policymakers

The Pennsylvania Clearinghouse for Education Research–or PACER–is designed to inform state education policy discussions through rigorous, objective research; regular policy briefs; and research-based commentaries in leading media outlets statewide.

An Evaluation of the Philadelphia Youth Network’s GED-to-College Initiative

In October 2009, Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) launched a pilot GED to College (GTC) initiative. Four unique providers, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, People for People, Inc. (PFP), and Youth…

An Evaluation of the Philadelphia Youth Network’s Student Success Centers

The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) is overseeing 11 Student Success Centers, which are located in the city's comprehensive high schools and designed to assist students to get and stay on track to college. RFA conducted…

Renaissance Schools in Philadelphia: Examining Early Implementation of a Turnaround School Model

This study, commissioned by the Accountability Review Council of the School District of Philadelphia, focused on the early months of Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's Renaissance Schools Initiative, designed to turn around chronically low-performing schools. Thirteen schools…

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

The School District of Philadelphia operates 13 accelerated high schools to help get off-track students (e.g., over-age, under-credited youth) back on track to graduation. This project examines literacy teaching and learning at the accelerated high…

City Year Philadelphia: An Evaluation of Implementation and Impact

RFA is conducting evaluation research for City Year Greater Philadelphia which has two major purposes: (1) summative research uses survey and student outcome data to address project benchmarks. (2) qualitative research at three in-depth research…

Philadelphia’s Constitution High School and its Partnerships: A Formative Evaluation

The National Constitution Center has partnered with the School District of Philadelphia to create Constitution High School. The Constitution Center hired RFA to provide formative feedback to assist the school and its partners in moving…

A Study of Effective Organizational Practices

The Accountability Review Council (ARC) of the School District of Philadelphia commissioned Research for Action to conduct a qualitative study designed to shed light on the practices of relatively successful Philadelphia schools serving middle and…

An Evaluation of Congreso de Latino Unidos’ Éxito Project

Congreso de Latinos Unidos is a non-profit social service organization in Philadelphia that has a long history of working with children and youth in the Philadelphia School System as well as the juvenile justice system.…

An Evaluation of the Center for Literacy’s Integrated Literacy Model at West Philadelphia High School

The William Penn Foundation funds Center for Literacy's Integrated Literacy Model (ILM) at West Philadelphia High School and commissioned RFA to conduct an implementation and impact evaluation of the model. This pilot project aims to…

An Evaluation of the School District of Philadelphia’s Faith Partnerships Program

The School District of Philadelphia contracted with RFA to conduct an evaluation of its Faith Partnerships program. This study explored schools' perspectives on their partnerships with religious institutions, and examined the types of supports and…

A Documentation of a Collaborative High School Planning Process: Philadelphia Education Fund

The Philadelphia Education Fund and the School District of Philadelphia partnered to convene a broad-based planning process to design a five-year blueprint for the redesign of Philadelphia's high schools. The effort involved a broad range…

Need in Deed Formative and Outcome Evaluation

Need in Deed (NID), a Philadelphia-based organization, prepares and supports teachers as they integrate service-learning into their classroom practice. RFA conducted a one-year outcomes evaluation to determine the ways in which NID's work with teachers…

School Choice in a City of Neighborhoods: Philadelphia’s Approach to High School Reform

RFA's study on high school choice builds on the "Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform" study and turns RFA's attention to the improvement of Philadelphia's high schools--a focus that was not part of the previous study…

Supporting Education Organizing for Education Equity: Communities for Public Education Reform

Southeastern Pennsylvania was selected as one of four sites for funding from Communities for Public Education Reform (CPER), a national philanthropic collaborative aimed at increasing student and parent power to affect school reform. CPER-funded groups…

An Evaluation of the Philadelphia Urban Systemic Initiative (USI): School District of Philadelphia

RFA conducted a five year evaluation of USI. Supported by the National Science Foundation, USI is a systemic change initiative charged by the School District of Philadelphia to reform math, science, and technology instruction that…

Going Small: Public/Private Collaboration in Restructuring High School Education in Philadelphia

RFA examined the planning and early implementation of the School District of Philadelphia small schools strategy for high school reform, focusing especially on the significant role of public/private sector collaboration in developing and carrying out…

An Evaluation of the School District of Philadelphia’s Pilot Parent Leadership Academies (PLA)

The Parent Leadership Academy (PLA) was an initiative of the School District and the William Penn Foundation to increase parent involvement and leadership in schools and communities. PLAs were regional centers where parents could access…

Learning to Learn from Data: Using Data to Inform Instructional Decisions and Improve Student Learning in Low-Performing Urban Schools

RFA's study on the use of interim assessment data focused on low-performing urban elementary and middle schools under significant pressure to improve student achievement using student data. The study took advantage of the local school…

Which Bets Paid Off? Estimating the Effects on Middle Grades Achievement of More than a Decade of Ambitious Reform in Philadelphia

RFA worked with researchers at Johns Hopkins University who are principal investigators in an National Science Foundation-funded project to study long-term trends in mathematics and science reform in the middle grades in Philadelphia. Johns Hopkins…

Youth Civic Engagement in Urban School Reform

RFA is analyzing the campaigns of two Philadelphia youth organizing groups, the Philadelphia Student Union (PSU) and Youth United for Change (YUC), to transform their neighborhood high schools into small schools. RFA's study investigates how…

A Study of Cultural Leaders’ Reflections on Cultural Participation: Philadelphia Cultural Participation Benchmark Project

The Philadelphia Cultural Participation Benchmark Project, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, was a collaboration of the University of Pennsylvania's Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), RFA, and Audience Insight…

A Study of Curriculum Implementation in the Greater Philadelphia Secondary Mathematics Project (GPSMP)

RFA participated in a study of the impact of a mathematics curriculum reform in 10 districts in the Philadelphia area.

An Evaluation of EducationWorks’ National School and Community Corps (NSCC)

NSCC is an Americorps National Service Program. Full-time NSCC participants implement academic and other support programs in public schools during the school day; they also carry out after-school activities for students, parents, and community members,…

An Exploratory Research and Evaluability Study of the Peer Academic Development Curriculum by White-Williams Scholars

RFA conducted exploratory research of the early implementation of the White Williams Scholars' Peer Academic Development (PAD) standardized curriculum. Later, during the 2004-05 school year, RFA conducted an evaluability study of this program. White-Williams Scholars…

Learning from Philadelphia’s School Reform

RFA is leading "Learning from Philadelphia's School Reform," a comprehensive, multi-year study of Philadelphia's complex and radical school reform effort. RFA researchers worked with colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, Montclair State University, Swarthmore College,…

An Action Research Project: Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Project with the Philadelphia Schools

RFA provided the PMA education staff with a series of professional development sessions. The sessions focused on the skills and practices of program assessment and evaluation. The research focused on two Museum programs: an after-school…

An Evaluation of Talent Development, a Whole-School Reform: The Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF)

The Talent Development High School is a national high school comprehensive reform model developed at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk (CRESPAR). PEF, a regional partner for…

Action Research with Youth United for Change

YUC is a group of Philadelphia students organizing to change their high schools. RFA was asked to interview the students and adults with whom YUC worked closely and to create a summary of different perspectives…

An Evaluation of the Reduced Class Size/Early Balanced Literacy Initiative (RCS/EBL): Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF)

RFA evaluated the RCS/EBL initiative designed and implemented by a partnership of PEF and the School District of Philadelphia. Full-time Literacy Intern Teachers in the early grades work alongside senior teachers. RFA examined the impact…

An Evaluation of Philadelphia’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP): School District of Philadelphia

GEAR UP is a national initiative whose major goal is to increase significantly the proportion of low-income students successfully continuing their education at institutions of higher education. RFA worked in partnership with the School District…

Twenty Years of Reflection and Action: Lessons from an Exemplary Urban Professional Development Group

This project examined the work of one exemplary teacher network, the Philadelphia Teachers' Learning Cooperative (PTLC). Funded jointly by the MacArthur/Spencer Professional Development Research and Documentation Program, this study investigated effective and adaptive forms of…

An Evaluation of Family Literacy Initiatives

From 1997-2000, RFA conducted an evaluation of two projects sponsored by PNC Bank to create educational partnerships between four elementary schools in Philadelphia's Norris Square neighborhood and parents/community members. The PNC supported programs were the…

An Evaluation of Science All Around Us: Please Touch Museum

Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum developed and distributed science kits, prepackaged materials and activities for pre-schoolers and provided professional development for preschool teachers through a grant from the National Science Foundation. RFA helped the Please Touch…

An After-School Literacy and Leadership Development Program for Girls: Sisters Together in Action Research (STAR)

STAR was an after-school literacy and leadership development program for low-income early adolescent and teenage girls (ages 9-18) in North Philadelphia. The program brought together groups of girls to design and conduct action research in…

An Evaluation of an In-School Parenting Education Program: Educating Children for Parenting (ECP)

Educating Children for Parenting, a Philadelphia-based group, developed curricula that teach children about the responsibilities of parenting, young children's growth and development, and the importance of caring and nurturing in human relationships. RFA conducted a…

An Evaluation of Philadelphia’s Annenberg Challenge, Children Achieving: School District of Philadelphia and The Annenberg Foundation

RFA and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) conducted a five-year multi-method evaluation of Children Achieving, Philadelphia's systemic school reform effort from 1995-2000. The program, one of the urban reform initiatives funded through…

An Evaluation of the Philadelphia Urban Systemic Program (USP): School District of Philadelphia

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Urban Systemic Project (USP) was a systemic change initiative charged by the School District of Philadelphia to reform math, science and technology instruction and produce high levels of…

A Participatory Evaluation of the Gratz Connection: School District of Philadelphia

RFA designed a collaborative action research project for the Gratz Connection, a Pennsylvania Department of Education demonstration site for dropout prevention. The research involved teachers from a neighborhood high school and its 16 elementary and…

A Study of High School Restructuring in Five Schools: Philadelphia Education Fund (PEF)

The Five School Study: Restructuring Philadelphia Comprehensive High Schools assessed the long-term, district-wide effort to restructure Philadelphia's comprehensive high schools. It examined two strategies central to the overall reform effort: the creation of small learning…

An Evaluation of Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs: School District of Philadelphia

An evaluation of a school-based program that encouraged young mothers to persist to graduation by providing a supportive environment and extra academic support.

An Evaluation of Parent and Community Roles in Local Schools: Alliance Organizing Project (AOP)

AOP was a Philadelphia-based group working to organize parents for new roles in their local schools for the purpose of supporting and sustaining school reform. RFA worked with AOP to assess how participation in organizing…

Taking Stock/Making Change: School District of Philadelphia and the Center for Urban Ethnography, University of Pennsylvania. An Action Research Project

Taking Stock/Making Change was a collaboration between RFA and the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Urban Ethnography which supported study teams in five Philadelphia elementary and middle schools in their efforts to connect self-assessment to…

An Evaluation of Family Centers: School District of Philadelphia

RFA carried out an 18 month formative evaluation of two family centers, the West Philadelphia Family Center (located at the Barry School) and the McKinley Family Center for Child Development (located at the McKinley Elementary…

An Evaluation of the Science Resource Leaders Program: School District of Philadelphia and PATHS/PRISM

Science Resource Leaders (SRL) was a project of the School District of Philadelphia and PATHS/PRISM funded by the National Science Foundation. Its goal was to provide professional development for middle school science teachers who could…

An Evaluation of Partners in Change with a Middle School Change Project: PATHS/PRISM

Partners in Change/Crossing the Boundaries were two middle school renewal projects sponsored by PATHS/PRISM as part of its work with the School District of Philadelphia and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts. RFA conducted case…

The Philadelphia Community Schools Initiative: Year 1 Evaluation

New Data on Teacher Diversity in Pennsylvania

Recently, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provided new data for 2016-17 that include the race and gender of the 155,854 teachers in Pennsylvania's public schools. RFA compiled and cleaned the raw data and is providing, for…

Getting On Track to Graduation: Ninth Graders’ Credit Accumulation in the School District of Philadelphia, 2014-2016

PERC's report retroactively applies the School District of Philadelphia's new Ninth Grade On-Track Definition to two ninth-grade SDP cohorts to determine the number of students on track to graduation, the characteristics of on- and off-track students,…

Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Recruiting and Retaining Teachers of Color in Pennsylvania

Research shows that exposure to teachers of color has a positive impact on students of all races, and particularly on students of color. Despite these positive effects, only 4% of Pennsylvania's teachers are people of…

Philadelphia Community Schools Progress Report

Philadelphia's Community Schools initiative was launched in 2016. The effort pairs a full-time coordinator with each school and its community to pinpoint needed services and coordinate their delivery via city agencies and non-profits. Research shows…

Supporting Literacy in Out-of-School Time: An Examination of OST Early Literacy Practices in Philadelphia

Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time (OST) system has identified K-3rd grade literacy support as the focus of the first phase of its strategic plan, launched in 2017. Research shows that OST programs can have an impact on…

Adding Another Voice: Caretakers’ Experiences Utilizing Philadelphia’s Out-of-School Time Programs

Nationwide, there is a high demand for out-of-school time (OST) programs, and this demand has not been fully met—particularly in high-poverty areas. Information about caretakers’ and children’s OST needs can help citywide systems better target…

The Fiscal Impact of Charter School Expansion: Calculations in Six Pennsylvania School Districts

As charter school enrollment in Pennsylvania rises, understanding the fiscal impact of charter school expansion is critical for school districts to accurately budget and to anticipate current and future costs. In order to calculate the…

Kindergarten English Learners’ Time to Proficiency in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is often called the original American melting pot for its rich mix of languages, people, ideas and religions. The city’s immigrant population is growing steadily, and more than 20 percent of the city’s population…

Community Schools in Practice: Research on Implementation and Impact

Community schools are receiving increased attention in Pennsylvania and across the country as policymakers and practitioners strive to address the effects of poverty on academic performance, and provide more comprehensive supports for traditionally-underserved populations. While…

Blended Learning: Lessons from Best Practice Sites and the Philadelphia Context

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium’s (PERC’s) inaugural project is centered on the emerging concept of Blended Learning. The first brief, published in September 2014, examines the research base, identifies a definition of this emerging concept,…

Research for Action’s Evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Center Grantees: A Snapshot of OST Programs in Philadelphia in 2013-14

21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants are designed to support out-of-school time (OST) programs that provide academic support for youth attending high-poverty, underperforming schools. The programs also offer enrichment activities, such as art…

Local School Governance in Philadelphia

School district governance in Philadelphia has long been a subject of debate. In this PACER brief, RFA examined the history of Philadelphia school governance; surveyed the governance structures in a sample of other large, urban…

Blended Learning: Defining Models and Examining Conditions to Support Implementation

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium’s (PERC’s) inaugural project is centered on the emerging concept of Blended Learning. This first brief, published in September 2014, examines the research base, identifies a definition of this emerging concept,…

On Track to Success: The Fifth Year Evaluation of Congreso’s Éxito Program

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

On Track to Success: Five Year Summary of Evaluation Results from Congreso’s Éxito Program

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

On Track to Success: The Fourth Year Evaluation of Congreso’s Éxito Program

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

A Snapshot of OST Programming in Philadelphia: An Evaluation of Six 21st Century Community Learning Center Grantees

21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) grants are designed to support out-of-school time (OST) programs to provide academic support for youth attending high-poverty, under-performing schools. The programs also offer enrichment activities such as art…

School Closings Policy

The nation's largest school districts have increasingly turned to building closures to address budget deficits, demographic shifts, and the movement of students to charter schools. This PACER Issue Brief examines school closings policy.

Year Four Evaluation of City Year Greater Philadelphia

Research for Action's (RFA's) evaluation of City Year Greater Philadelphia (CYGP) c during the 2011-12 school year represents the fourth consecutive year of RFA's partnership with CYGP. The study found that Corps members were not…

Issue Brief: School District Portfolio Management

In Philadelphia, an ambitious effort to restructure the district has been proposed. The draft Blueprint for Reforming Philadelphia's Public Schools, released in April 2012, sets two distinct goals: 1) Safe, high-performing schools district-wide; and 2)…

On Track to Success: The Third Year Evaluation of Congreso’s Éxito Program

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools Initiative: 18 Month Interim Report

This report presents Year One (2010-11) school level achievement and attendance outcomes and case study findings from fall 2011 that focused on school leadership and instruction.Thirteen schools were included in the first year of Philadelphia's…

Youth as Civic Actors: High School Reform in Three Philadelphia Neighborhoods

Philadelphia unfolds out from its downtown skyline into a diverse swath of neighborhoods, each with its own story of richness and struggle-and each with its own public high school. In 2002, and still today, many…

Bridging the Gap: How Students from Immigrant Families Navigate Philadelphia’s High School Application Process

School choice research tends to focus on parent management of decisions, but this brief recognizes the critical role of students in managing the high school application process, particularly for adolescents from immigrant families whose parents…

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…

A Snapshot of Philadelphia’s Accelerated Schools

This snapshot is a guide to the School District of Philadelphia's (the District's) 13 accelerated high schools in the 2010-11 school year. The accelerated high schools were the result of a partnership between the District…

Philadelphia’s Renaissance Schools: A Report on Start Up and Early Implementation

In April 2009, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman announced her reform plan for the School District of Philadelphia (the District) - Imagine 2014. Among other major initiatives, Imagine 2014 laid the groundwork for Philadelphia's Renaissance Schools Initiative.…

On Track to Success: The Second Year Evaluation of Congreso’s Éxito Program

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

Uneven Playing Field: Demographic Differences and High School ‘Choice’ in Philadelphia

Every fall, eighth graders participate in the School District of Philadelphia's high school application and admissions process, vying for spots in a tiered system of public high schools across the city. This policy brief looks…

Challenges to Freshman Year Interventions in Philadelphia

Philadelphia made early investments in reforms designed to address the challenges of large neighborhood high schools, including supports for the critical ninth grade transition year. Well over a decade later, our research shows that freshman…

Transition to High School: School ‘Choice’ and Freshman Year in Philadelphia

The School District of Philadelphia's tiered system of selective, nonselective, and charter high schools, and the process for high school choice, has created real variation in the degree to which high schools can successfully meet…

Context, Conditions, and Consequences: Freshman Year Transition in Philadelphia

This policy brief focuses on the School District of Philadelphia's high school selection process and the ways in which it reinforces and compounds inequities that already exist among the District's tiered system of selective, non-selective,…

Getting On Track: Lessons from Éxito’s First Year

Congreso de Latinos Unidos has partnered with Edison High School on the Éxito™ initiative since 2008-09 with the goal of reducing the school’s high dropout rate and increasing graduation rates. The program has received support…

Philadelphia’s Teacher Appraisal System: Needs Improvement

Philadelphia's Teacher Appraisal System lays out a number of features of the current appraisal system used by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) that keep it from effectively supporting high-quality teaching. District schools rate teacher…

Going Small: Progress and Challenges of Philadelphia’s Small High Schools

Between 2003 and 2007, and without significant outside funding, the School District of Philadelphia created 25 new small high schools. This study, begun by Research for Action in 2006, follows the start-up and early implementation…

Making the Most of Interim Assessment Data: Lessons from Philadelphia

Under No Child Left Behind, urban school districts have increasingly turned to interim assessments, administered at regular intervals, to help gauge student progress in advance of annual state exams. These assessments have spawned growing debate…

Counselors are Critical: How Middle School Counselors Can Support Students in Philadelphia’s High School Application Process

This brief draws on the data from interviews with counselors, 8th grade students, and parents, as well as observations of parent meetings, counselor meetings, assembly presentations and a day at the SDP High School Expo,…