Closing the Teacher Quality Gap in Philadelphia: New Hope and Old Hurdles

Christina Hentges

Research for Action
June 2007

Research for Action completes the trifecta with the publication of its third study on teacher quality in Philadelphia (see Gadfly's takes on the 2003 and 2005 installments here and here). Offering updates on both NCLB- and Paul Vallas-induced reforms, the latest report discusses how the district has upgraded teacher credentials, improved recruitment and retention, and more equitably distributed teachers across schools. The district has strengthened its classroom workforce, for example, by rewarding teachers who head to 24 "incentive schools" and relying on alternative certification programs. Four years of this campaign have yielded promising results. Yet teacher quality discrepancies between low- and high-poverty schools remain. And teachers continue to leave: only 30 percent of current teachers in the City of Brotherly Love have over six years' experience. Research for Action's fairly obvious recommendations include more incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools, more professional development, and recruitment of more minority and specialized teachers. Have a look here.