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ERIC Number: ED480403
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001-Dec-1
Pages: 66
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Powerful Ideas, Modest Gains: Five Years of Systemic Reform in Philadelphia Middle Schools.
Christman, Jolley Bruce
This report details what happened in Philadelphia's middle schools during the Children Achieving reform effort, a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all reform project. Based on research of the program over a 5-year period, the paper explains why reforms fell short of their intended outcomes. The critical levers for change were content standards, the accountability system, and decentralization. Content standards, as examined here, outlined the knowledge and skills that Philadelphia students should acquire. Initially, Children Achieving did not articulate a particular vision or set of recommended practices, preferring that neighborhood clusters, local schools, and small learning communities customize educational practices to meet the needs of their students and harness the resources of their communities. Surveys showed that each level of schooling--elementary, middle, and high school--demanded customized strategies for improvement. Each level had different organizational issues, professional norms, and cultures that needed to be addressed. Reform leaders failed to craft strategies that accounted for different levels of schooling and varying capacities of teachers and schools. It was not enough to specify the ends, and the initial lack of guidance regarding curriculum and pedagogy resulted in the widespread use of test-preparation materials that were not integrated with the standards or the envisioned classroom curricula. Appended are tables on the Profile of Five Middle Schools in the Intensive Qualitative Sample, 1999-2000. (Contains 13 tables.) (RJM)
Consortium for Policy Research in Education, 3440 Market Street, Suite 560, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3325. Tel: 215-573-0700; Fax: 215-573-7914; e-mail:; Web site: For full text:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Consortium for Policy Research in Education, Philadelphia, PA.