At PERC, we want to serve as a bridge between education research and practice in Philadelphia. In addition to publishing original studies, we spread the word about other resources that are relevant to our focus areas, based on rigorous research, and freely available. 

We regularly update this curated collection with new materials, so check back often!

High school improvement in Philadelphia across the decades

History teachers remind their students of this quote from George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Philadelphia has experienced a number of high school improvement initiatives across the years. The resources below provide insight into some of these initiatives.

The Five School Study: Restructuring Philadelphia's Comprehensive High Schools (1996)


In 1988, with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Philadelphia undertook a major effort to remake its 22 comprehensive (neighborhood) high schools. A key feature of this reform was the creation of "small learning communities" at each school. Using case studies of five schools, this report describes the goals, context, promise, and challenges of this high school change effort.

This report was authored by Jolley Bruce Christman and Pat Macpherson and published by Research for Action.

The Philadelphia Educational Longitudinal Study: Report on the Transition to High School in the School District of Philadelphia (1999)

The transition to ninth grade has been a perennial challenge for Philadelphia students, as shown by this report published about two decades ago. The report also examines the high school choice process and parents' perceptions of the transition to high school. Data are from a citywide survey of parents and students.

This report was authored by Ruth Curran Neild and Christopher Weiss and published by the Philadelphia Education Fund.

Making Progress Toward Graduation: Evidence from the Talent Development High School Model (2005)

In 1998, the School District of Philadelphia began to implement the Talent Development High School in a several high schools. This model modified the small learning community structure by including a separate academy for ninth graders. The model also involved double-doses of mathematics and literacy intended to help ninth graders catch up on key academic skills.

This impact study found substantial gains in attendance, course credits earned, and promotion in ninth grade.

This report was authored by James Kemple, Corinne Herlihy, and Thomas J. Smith and published by MDRC.

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium makes its home at Research for Action,

a nonprofit education research organization.

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