New Report: The Use of Privatized School Management in Philadelphia

Posted by on April 20, 2009

Philly’s district-run schools outperform privatized schools

A new study from Johns Hopkins University has found that pupils at district-run schools in Philadelphia outpaced privatized peers on state exams, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The report in the May issue of The American Journal of Education looked at test scores of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at 88 city schools from 1997 through 2006. “By 2006, the achievement gap between the privatized group and the rest of the district was greater than it was before the intervention,” states Vaughn Byrnes, author of the study. This jibes with earlier studies, and comes at a critical moment for Philadelphia’s privatization experiment, largest of its kind in the country. Of the 18 school contracts due for renewal, 12 are managed by for-profit EdisonLearning. Jeanne Allen, school-choice advocate, says the study should be looked at in context — outside managers took on the lowest-performing schools. Helen Gym, a founder of Parents United for Public Education, disagrees: “Philadelphia is probably the last major urban city that’s experimenting with [privatization] — it’s on the tail end, not the cutting edge,” she said. “We don’t think these managers have given us the result they promised, despite millions of dollars and years and years of time.”

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