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People Plan: Goal 1

Improve the Delivery of Public School Education to all Youth In the Neighborhood

Community residents were surveyed about education in the neighborhood, including their perceptions of the quality of schools, availability of early childhood education programs, safe routes to school, after-school programs, and preparation of students entering college. As discussed in Chapter 2, respondents think the total quality of education is, overwhelmingly, fair to poor. The results are highlighted in Figure 24 on page 17. Furthermore, Sharswood/ Blumberg lost two major neighborhood assets with the closing of Reynolds Elementary School and Vaux High School in 2013. The key stakeholders of the Education Taskforce seek to educational opportunities for youth beginning at early childhood to post-secondary achievements. Increasing access to quality education is the cornerstone for opening door to opportunity, for social and economic mobility of residents, as well as making Sharswood a more attractive place for families to live, work, and play. 

In order to achieve this goal, the Education Taskforce is collaborating with residents and key stakeholders, including Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia, Girard College and the School District of Philadelphia to develop a model neighborhood public school. These institutional anchors and subject matter experts will play a critical role in improving the developmental and educational outcomes for neighborhood youth. 

The five strategies detailed below are cornerstones for the revitalization of high-quality education - from pre-natal through the completion of high school - in Sharswood/Blumberg. The strategies guided the creation of four-part blueprint on the development of the Sharswood/Blumberg Neighborhood School. The four components of the blueprint are:

1. Conceptual Design;
2. Curriculum Design;
3. Facility, Legal and Financing Structure; and,
4. Achievement Network Cyber High School

Below is a brief synopsis of each blueprint. The Conceptual Design calls for the integration of technology to all parts of the STEM focused curriculum, a universal provision of social services from cradle to graduation, and comprehensive philanthropic support for the development of a neighborhood
public elementary school. The school will be designed to provide extended days and academic year to mitigate or eliminate the “summer slump” in academic performance. Every child in the community will have access to early childhood education programs, and the school will be positioned as a
focal point for the delivery of comprehensive social services to the family. Teacher-to-student ratios will be kept low through the incorporation of teacher aides, and differentiated education will be provide in each grade. Local Parent and Community Council will be established to act as an advisory board to the School Principal.

The Curriculum Design calls for a Response to Instruction and Intervention model that ensures the academic growth of each student from
Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade. The comprehensive curriculum will blend direct instruction, inquiry-based instruction, and digital learning within the science, technology, engineering and math focus. High performing and average performing students will be tiered but share the same classrooms to improve the performance of all students. Parent and community involvement will be integrated into the extended day curriculum. 

The Facility, Legal and Financing Structure blueprint calls for creation of non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that will oversee the creation of both the neighborhood public elementary school and the achievement cyber high school. The neighborhood public elementary school will be housed in a state-of-the art 60,000 square foot modular building, which can hold up to 450 students from Pre-Kindergarten to eight grade. The building will include an Early Childhood Center, Parent Community Center, Drop in Learning Lab, and a Community Digital Access Center. The total construction is estimated at $24 million. Financing will come from variety of sources including local, state, federal government, bond issuance, philanthropic grants and the School District of Philadelphia. 

The Achievement Network Cyber High School blueprint calls for alternative paths to a diploma by creating Individualized Learning Plans for each student that include vocation and technical skills for young people ages 16 to 22 years old that have dropped out or been expelled from high school. The school will be integrated with services provided to young adults re-entering society and returning to the Sharswood neighborhood, and with the Career and Technical Education programs administered by the School District of Philadelphia. The students will be able to receive the education from home, detention centers, libraries and the Community Digital Access Center at the elementary school. Prior to graduation each student will complete an internships, conduct an employment search and hopefully, find job placement.

Strategy 1: Expand and Strengthen Early Childhood Education in Sharswood

  • 1.1 Improve the quality of Early Childhood Educational Programming in the neighborhood and expand the number of available slots to meet community demand.
  • 1.2 Expand access to affordable, quality in-home and out-of-home childcare to support existing providers and attract new ones.
  • 1.3 Develop or partner with an organization to provide parental training classes that educate new parents and other caregivers on the importance of providing a stable and supportive home environment for their children.

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • Total number of parents successfully completing the parental trainingclasses
  • Total participants enrolled in the Early Childhood Educational Programs and total retention

Strategy 2: Develop or Expand Access to High-Performing Elementary and Middle Schools

  • 2.1 PHA will complete acquisition of the Reynolds property from the School District and secure agreements with key partners to support the development of a school. Partners include the William Penn Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania, the Green Light Foundation, and others.
  • 2.2 The new school will be independently managed under a formal agreement with the School District and structured to be able to support students with special needs.
  • 2.3 The curriculum will emphasize CSTEM (Computer Science Technology Engineering & Math) Education and Related Programming to prepare
  • students for higher education and careers.
  • 2.4 Emphasis will be given to providing access for middles school students to participate in academic enrichment activities and college prep programming.

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • Number and Percentage of resident children enrolled in the new elementary school
  • Number and/ or Percentage of students at or above grade level (proficient or above) according to reading and/or math assessments in at least grades 3 through 8
  • Number and/or percentage of Youth enrolled in programs academic enrichment and college prep programming

Strategy 3: Cultivate a Comprehensive Mentoring Program to Support Continuing Education

  • 3.1 A mentoring program will connect youth with volunteer tutors/mentors and establish supportive relationships. Potential tutors/mentors include parents, as well as high-performing older youth who can serve as peer mentors to younger students.
  • 3.2 The program will expose participants to new experiences outside of their neighborhood, and potential career paths

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • Percentage of youth promoted to the next grade level each year
  • Ratio of number of older youth mentors to mentees (1:1 is ideal)
  • Percentage of teachers reporting improved attitude toward school
  • Percentage of mentors reporting improvement in self-confidence
  • Reduced rates in truancy

Strategy 4: Increase Rate of High School Graduation

  • 4.1 Counseling will be provided to high school freshmen and their parents to empower them to make informed decisions during high school
    and educate them about the value of preparation for college or vocational training.
  • 4.2 Teens will be connected to comprehensive support systems to maximize school retention efforts and keep students in high school
    through graduation.
  • 4.3 Local universities will participate in the development of college-bound programs for high school students (e.g. Temple University
    Upward Bound Program).

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • A significant increase in high school or equivalency completion
  • Percentage of students promoted to next grade level each year
  • High school graduation rates
  • College acceptance and attendance rates
  • Reduce rates of truancy

Strategy 5: Support Out of School Youth with the Completion of High School or Equivalency Program

  • 5.1 Implement reintegration programs that provide paths for alternative high school completion for disconnected youth.
  • 5.2 Create comprehensive childcare programs that will allow young working parents to maintain participation in alternative high school completion programs.
  • 5.3 Connect out of school youth with vocational and entrepreneurial training programs upon completion.

Performance Indicators and Metrics

  • The total number of youth out-of-school over the total number participating in an alternative completion program
  • Total number of youth completing alternative high school completion programs
  • Percentage of young working parents referred to childcare programs

Partners

In order to achieve this goal, partnerships with the key stakeholders are needed. Below is a listing of primary organizations that will may play a critical role in improving the developmental and educational outcomes of neighborhood youth.

  • Youth Advocate Programs (YAP)
  • The School District of Philadelphia
  • Girard College
  • Parents
  • Child Care Information Services (CCIS)
  • Public Health Management Corporation(PHMC)
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Robert Morris School
  • Columbia North YMCA
  • Community College of Philadelphia
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Honickman Learning Center/Comcast technology labs
  • Philadelphia Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative
  • Philadelphia Housing Authority
  • Brewerytown-Sharswood Community and Civic Association
  • Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN)