Beginning in the fall of 2006, the Philadelphia Education Fund, in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, conved events and conducted interviews to derive ideas, opinions, and reactions in the context of the Five Anchors set forth in the School District's White Paper. These activities drew together relevant opinions and perspectives regarding the current state of secondary schools in the District and what key components were deemed essential in improving secondary schools.
In February of 2007, a report was issued by the Philadelphia Education Fund entitled Advancing High School Reform: Perspectives of the Philadelphia School Community to Inform the School District of Philadelphia's Five Year Planning Blueprint. Data from five different sources was included in this report: a review of key national studies on high school reform; the Fall 2006 high school focus groups; the January 27th High School Symposium; a short student survey; and interviews with key district personnel.
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This report was made possible by generous support from the Claniel Foundation.
High School Focus Groups
A series of evening focus groups were attended by representatives from a total of 17 district high schools. Each high school was asked to send a "team" to the event, consisting of the principal, one assistant principal, two teachers, two students, two parents, and two representatives of the local school community. These teams were divided into small focus groups of like individuals (i.e. parents with parents, teachers with teachers, etc.) of around eight. There was a combined total of 22 focus groups.
Each group's discussions were guided by an interview protocol, itself based on the Five Anchors, which prompted reflection, support, critiques, concerns, and further ideas regarding both the salience of the Five Anchors and some of the obstacles and problems that might be encountered in seeking to put them into action.
High School Symposium
On January 27, 2007 teams from forty-eight high schools celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Research for Action's Five School Study and reviewed the Secondary Education Movement: Phase II.
School Teams discussed the five anchors, provided input into how they currently support each of them, what they could do, and what supports are needed to fully realize the five anchors.