Philadelphia Outsources High School Curriculum

Joanne Jacobs reports on Education Week’s story on Philadelphia outsourcing a new standardized high school curriculum to Kaplan K12 Learning Services Group. The company was given a $4.5 million, one-year contract to develop the college-prep curriculum in 10 core courses required to earn a Pennsylvania diploma: 9th grade physical sciences and world history; 10th grade biology, U.S. history, geometry, and world literature; and 11th grade chemistry, social science, Algebra 2, and American literature. That money also covers related assessments, materials for 9th grade transition classes, and student preparation for state tests. A second $4.5 million contract this year includes revisions to the curriculum as well as scoring the related tests. Kaplan already had a track record in the district as the provider of the 9th grade transitional English and math courses. Results from the spring 2004 TerraNova, a commercial test taken by Philadelphia students, found significant increases in the percent of 9th graders scoring at or above the national average in reading, language arts, and math, and a significant decrease in the percent of 9th graders in the bottom quartile, following introduction of the program. Ninth grade improvement outpaced that of any other grade level.