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ERIC Number: ED498041
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 36
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
School Reform in Philadelphia: A Comparison of Student Achievement at Privately-Managed Schools with Student Achievement in Other District Schools. PEPG 07-03
Peterson, Paul E.
Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) asks that states "restructure" schools that fail for six years running to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) toward full proficiency on the part of all students by the year 2014. Although restructuring efforts by most states have been modest, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2002, directed the School District of Philadelphia to undertake substantial restructuring of its 66 lowest performing schools under the overall direction of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC). The schools were contracted out to for-profit management organizations, to non-profit organizations, or assigned to be restructured by a newly created Office of Restructured Schools (ORS), a special office within the school district itself. The policy intervention in Philadelphia raises questions of general interest: Can private managers lift the percentage of students performing up to a basic level of proficiency as well or better than schools managed by a school district?; Can they increase the percentage of students performing at state-defined proficiency levels?; Does the competition stimulated by contracting out some schools to private management raise performance district-wide?; Are the benefits of the reform effort worth the costs? Using publicly available evidence concerning student test-score performance between 2002 and 2006, the author tracked the performance of two cohorts of 5th graders for three years to see whether, by 8th grade, those attending at elementary and middle schools under private management learned more than students at 8 ORS schools and more than students in the district as a whole, as indicated by their performance on the Pennsylvania State System of Assessment (PSSA), a high-stakes test used for accountability purposes under NCLB. The author found that the private providers were especially effective at increasing the percentage of students performing at or above the basic level, and were as effective as other schools in the district at bringing 5th grade students up to fully proficient levels of performance by 8th grade, despite the fact that student test scores were initially performing at significantly lower levels. (Contains 14 endnotes and 3 tables.) [This report was published by the Program for Education Policy and Governance, Harvard University, and was sponsored in part by Edison Schools.]
Program on Education Policy and Governance. Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, 79 John F. Kennedy Street, Taubman 304, Cambridge, MA 02138. Tel: 617-495-7976; Fax: 617-496-4428; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 5; Grade 8
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Milwaukee, WI.; John M. Olin Foundation, Inc., Alton, IL.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305A040043