NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 15, 2004

Since Philadelphia's School Reform Commission turned over 45 of the city's 265 public schools to such groups as Edison Schools Inc., a for-profit company, scores went up across the board, say observers.

The district's approach -- known as a "partnership management model" or "diverse provider model"-- was implemented with the hope that outside managers with new ideas would succeed where a succession of school boards and superintendents have failed.

Principal Aaron Starke, hired by Edison in 2001, has helped raise reading and math achievement at Kenderton School in North Philadelphia; the school has 650 students, almost all from low-income families, in kindergarten though eighth grade.

  • At Kenderton, where Edison's program of intensive reading instruction and computerized checks of student progress has been implemented, the portion of students scoring proficient or above on a state scale has increased 15 percentage points in reading and 25 percentage points in mathematics in the past year.
  • Overall, Edison's 20 schools in Philadelphia averaged a gain of 10 percentage points in the portion of proficient students last year, compared with an average annual gain of less than half a percentage point in the previous seven years before Edison took over, company officials say.

Other schools managed by what Philadelphia officials call educational management also have shown gains on standardized tests. Twenty-three of them make adequate yearly progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law, up from seven last years.

Several other cities, including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are moving toward similar private takeovers. H. Christopher Whittle, founder and chief executive of Edison, says the model might work in the District, where his company has four charter schools, if the superintendent and school board there supported it.

Source: Jay Matthews, "Philadelphia Shows Progress in Schools Run by Companies," Washington Post, November 9, 2004.


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