More than 12 million children are stuck in low-performing public schools nationally as the new academic year gets under way.
As the nation's 48.5 million schoolchildren began returning for the 2004-05 academic year, federal education officials say state reports show that at least 24,000 public schools – a quarter of the 96,500 nationwide – failed to meet "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) last year, based on student reading, mathematics test results and other factors.
Those schools predominantly served minority and economically disadvantaged students.
As a few highly publicized charter schools are shut down for academic or financial failure, thousands of public schools endure and attract billions in federal and state resources to continue their failing school practices.
Competition between public and privately managed schools in Philadelphia over the past two years has allowed all public school students to benefit from best practices and has led to overall achievement gains for Philadelphia students that are dramatically above the state average. The average test-score gain in Pennsylvania on the 2004 Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment (PSSA) was 5 points in reading and 6 points in math, according to data released by the state Department of Education on August 24. The School District of Philadelphia exceeded those rates, posting average gains of 10 in reading and 10 in math.
The gain rates achieved in Philadelphia are among the highest of any of the nation's largest school districts, according to the Council of Great City Schools.
Moreover, the gains in student achievement occurred in both contracted "partner" schools and in traditional public schools, providing the first substantial evidence that the city's public-private school management experiment -- to turn around the district's lowest performing schools -- is working.