Privatization of school management is working well in Philadelphia, argues Lisa Snell of Reason Foundation.
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 five points in reading and six 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.
Edison-managed schools did so well that the district-run schools adopted Edison’s benchmarking system.
Edison’s benchmark testing program, aligned with the state’s assessment system, has an instant feedback loop that allows teachers to immediately know their students’ academic weaknesses and tailor their lesson plans to meet student needs.
The School District of Philadelphia adopted a similar benchmarking program, implemented through a contract with Princeton Review and SchoolNet, to assess students every six weeks for their progress toward state grade-level standards.
Both privately managed and district-run schools are posting higher scores.