Children in SDP Harmed by Lack of Financial Stability

The Accountability Review Council (ARC) expressed serious concerns about the impact the lack of financial stability and sustainability has on academic outcomes for children in the District of Philadelphia.

The state of Pennsylvania created the ARC, a non-partisan council, in 2003 to serve “as an independent entity that assesses key reform initiatives and their impact on student achievement in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP).”

In its report delivered to the School Reform Commission on November 21, 2013, the Council stated that it is “deeply concerned about the ability of the District to sustain basic education quality” because of the fiscal condition of the District.

The ARC listed that its six major issues facing the District are:

  1. The Current Financial Crisis
  2. Accountability Review in a Period of Fiscal Retrenchment
  3. Data Integrity and Implementation of Stronger Accountability Measures
  4. Making Strategic Investments
  5. Uneven Academic Progress
  6. Broadening High Quality Early Childhood Education

Central to these concerns are the two most pressing challenges that the ARC faces: raising student achievement and containing the elevating fiscal deficit. However, the ARC found the District significantly lacking on these two fronts. The failure by the SDP has been most evident on the key issue of learning to read. The report noted that the District was far from having all children proficient or above in reading at the end of the third grade–only 44% reached that level.

To address this and other problem areas, the ARC said that the SDP needs to focus on the financial gap and called for “shared responsibility among key city, state, and of course district stakeholders.”

The consequences from a lack of such cooperation are severe. The report noted, “If this financial gap is not closed, ARC foresees not just a failure to deliver high quality education, but a significant amount of backsliding that will erode much of the progress made to date.”

To read the full report click here.