Data dive: How do demographics affect performance at Philadelphia public high schools?

    Last week I wrote a story about Chrislie Dor, a Philadelphia School District student who applied to two district-run magnet high schools.

    If accepted, she said she’d attend one of those schools. If not, she said she’d enroll in a high school run by a charter organization.

    Comprehensive neighborhood high schools did not seem like a good option to her and her family.

    This week, Chrislie learned she was accepted to the Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA), the district-run magnet that she had dreamed of attending.

    In researching the story, I compiled a table based on most-up-to-date state data to illustrate how student demographics differ at the city’s public high school offerings – both district and charter-run.

    Here I wanted to explore that data in further detail, first by comparing the differences among the city’s highest and lowest achieving public high schools.

    For the sake of this discussion, the terms “high” and “low” achieving here are based on the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s School Performance Profile (SPP) score.

    SPP is a metric that the state introduced at the beginning of this school year that aggregates verifiable data including, but not limited to, standardized test scores.

    The data presented here represents the city’s high schools currently in operation for which data is available. Closed schools were not counted.

     

    Economically disadvantaged

    English language

    learners

    Special education

    Boys

    Girls

    Average SPP Score

    Top 10 public high schools in Philly by SPP score*

    45.43%

    .91%

    7.51%

    47.24%

    52.82%

    87.69

    Bottom 10 public high schools in Philly by SPP score**

    95.44%

    9.33%

    26.32%

    50.56%

    48.73%

    34.49

    *6 district-run, 4 charter**8 district-run, 2 charter

    As the graph shows, high-achieving schools share certain demographic traits in common: serving populations that are wealthier, more female and less encumbered with learning impediments.

    The opposite is true of low-achieving schools.

    There are, of course, schools that buck demographic trends and either outperform or underperform expectations. (Below, I’ve included a full list of Philadelphia public high schools to analyze and compare.)

    Exact comparisons, though, are difficult to make – especially between district and charter-run schools.

    Take the term “economically disadvantaged” as an example. The Philadelphia School District computes that metric by school using a theoretical formula that takes into account census data.

    Charter schools, on the other hand, ask families to fill out and return a form that asks personal financial questions. Neither method is an exact science. Both could yield results that either inflate or deflate the accurate number.

    Special-education statistics are equally messy. The term covers such a wide range of disabilities, with huge variations in impact on learning ability and cost to educate.

    We are able, though, to glean some insights when comparing the special-ed stats of district and charter-run schools globally.

    The state’s 2011-2012 special-education data show that, compared to the city’s charters, the Philadelphia School District serves a disproportionate amount of the special-education students thought most difficult and resource-draining to educate.

    These are students who fall into special-education categories such as emotional disturbance, autism, intellectual disability, and visual and hearing impairments.

    Comparing individual schools along these special-ed categories, though, is difficult. The data breakdown is publicly available for individual charters, but not for individual district-run schools.

    Common threads

    With all that in mind, here’s a further look at demographic data for the city’s public high schools:

    Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq defines an SPP score of 70 as the threshold that signals that a school is “moving toward success.”

    Of the 21 public high schools in Philadelphia with SPP scores above 70:

    • 20 of 21 serve populations have less than 3% English Language Learners. The only exception is the district-run Motivation High School.

    • 16 of 21 serve populations that are below 70% economically disadvantaged. The exceptions are: Motivation HS, Parkway Center City, Mastery Pickett, Mastery Thomas, Maritime Academy Charter.

    • 16 of 21 have more girls than boys. The exceptions are: Central HS, Carver HS, The Philadelphia Academy Charter School, Mastery Pickett, and Prep Charter.

    • 13 of 21 have special education populations under 15%. The 8 schools above this threshold are all charter schools.

    Of the 28 public high schools in Philadelphia with SPP scores below 50:

    • 26 of 28 serve populations that are above 70% economically disadvantaged. The exceptions are: Abraham Lincoln HS, and Truebright Science Academy Charter School.

     •25 of 28 serve populations that are above 15% special education. The exceptions are: Truebright Charter, Boys Latin Charter, and Walter D. Palmer Charter.

    • 22 of 28 have more boys than girls. Exceptions are: Universal Audenried Renaissance Charter, Delaware Community Charter, Walter Palmer Leadership Charter, Kensington Urban, Kensington Health, and Arise Charter.

    • Statistics on English Language Learners vary widely between low-performing schools.

    Below I’ve reproduced the full graph of public high schools in Philadelphia, in order of highest to lowest SPP score. Charter schools appear in green. Renaissance charters are in blue.

    School

    Enrollment

    SPP Score

    % economically disadvantaged*

    % English language learners

    % special education (non-gifted)

    % boys

    % girls

    Central

    2329

    101.3

    47.57%

    0.86%

    0.86%

    51.48%

    48.52%

    Julia R. Masterman (5-12)

    1174

    95

    30.58%

    0.17%

    1.7%

    45.66%

    54.34%

    Carver HS

    750

    90.9

    52.93%

    2.67%

    2.8%

    56.93%

    43.07%

    MaST (K-12)

    1306

    90

    37.06%

    1.76%

    12.71%

    49.92%

    50.08%

    Franklin Towne Charter High School

    1013

    89.1

    51.23%

    0

    10.56%

    42.25%

    57.75%

    William Bodine

    514

    83.5

    67.51%

    1.56%

    3.31%

    40.8%

    59.92%

    New Foundations Charter School (K-12)

    1067

    83.5

    61.95%

    0.09%

    9.47%

    47.89%

    52.11%

    Science Leadership Academy

    488

    81.8

    37.3%

    1.84%

    8.61%

    43.65%

    56.35%

    GAMP (5-12)

    515

    81.4

    37.48%

    0.19%

    3.69%

    41.17%

    58.83%

    The Philadelphia Academy Charter School (K-12)

    1182

    80.4

    30.71%

    0%

    21.48%

    52.71%

    47.29%

    Mastery–Shoemaker (7-12)

    721

    79.5

    69.76%

    0.55%

    19.27%

    48.54%

    51.46%

    Mastery-Pickett (7-12)

    729

    76.3

    83.26%

    0.41%

    22.35%

    52.54%

    47.46%

    Girls High

    1170

    75.8

    69.06%

    1.2%

    2.82%

    0%

    100%

    Mastery–Hardy Williams (K-12)

    948

    75.6

    43.14%

    0.11%

    13.29%

    48.21%

    51.79%

    Mastery–Thomas (K-12)

    640

    75.4

    74.06%

    2.66%

    17.65%

    48.28%

    51.72%

    Motivation

    242

    75.3

    100%

    4.3%

    5.79%

    32.64%

    67.36%

    Mastery–Lenfest (6-12)

    541

    74.7

    62.29%

    1.29%

    16.82%

    45.84%

    54.16%

    Maritime Academy Charter School (5-12)

    773

    72.5

    83.96%

    0.91%

    8.93%

    46.44%

    53.56%

    Parkway Center City

    466

    72.1

    100%

    1.93%

    4.51%

    40.99%

    59.01%

    CAPA

    702

    71.5

    47.01%

    0.85%

    5.56%

    29.2%

    70.8%

    Prep Charter High School

    607

    70.6

    61.94%

    1.81%

    3.79%

    51.57%

    48.43%

    Academy at Palumbo

    716

    67.8

    57.54%

    2.09%

    4.05%

    41.62%

    58.38%

    Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School (5-12)

    480

    67.8

    86.04%

    0%

    8.54%

    50.83%

    49.17%

    Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush

    554

    67.4

    50.9%

    1.81%

    10.28%

    27.98%

    72.02%

    The Mathematics, Civics and Sciences Charter School (1-12)

    930

    66.9

    82.15%

    0%

    3.12%

    44.41%

    55.59%

    Northeast HS

    2965

    66.3

    71.57%

    14.97%

    12.78%

    56.05%

    43.95%

    Parkway West

    257

    66.1

    57.98%

    0%

    8.95%

    37.74%

    62.26%

    Multi-Cultural Academy Charter

    247

    64.9

    73.28%

    0%

    9.72%

    36.84%

    63.16%

    Esperanza Academy Charter High School (6-12)

    798

    63.8

    91.35%

    15.41%

    14.28%

    48.12%

    51.88%

    Freire Charter School (5-12)

    948

    63.3

    88.08%

    0.84%

    12.23%

    41.03%

    58.97%

    Tacony Academy Charter School (K-12)

    873

    61.8

    54.87%

    0%

    14.66%

    50.4%

    49.6%

    Swenson Arts and Tech

    693

    61.6

    63.35%

    5.77%

    17.46%

    64.07%

    35.93%

    Community Academy of Philadelphia Charter School (1-12)

    1266

    61.4

    74.72%

    6.08%

    15.56%

    46.52%

    53.48%

    Philadelphia Military Academy Elverson*

    206

    61.1

    100%

    3.88%

    7.28%

    61.65%

    38.35%

    Sankofa Freedom Academy (K-12)

    591

    60.6

    74.79%

    1.69%

    10.99%

    51.44%

    48.56%

    Philadelphia Military Academy Leeds*

    249

    60.3

    81.12%

    2.41%

    13.65%

    63.86%

    36.14

    A. Philip Randolph

    539

    59.4

    100%

    1.67%

    14.28%

    62.89%

    37.11%

    KIPP DuBois Collegiate Academy (K-12)

    895

    59.2

    85.92%

    0.34%

    21.56%

    48.49%

    51.51%

    Constitution

    380

    58.6

    50.53%

    3.95%

    10.52%

    45%

    55%

    Mariana Bracetti Academy (6-12)

    1241

    58.6

    91.78%

    12.89%

    15.79%

    46.09%

    53.91%

    Philadelphia Electrical and Technology Charter High School

    642

    57.4

    73.99%

    1.25%

    15.57%

    56.54%

    43.46%

    Murrell Dobbins

    719

    57.2

    100%

    2.64%

    17.24%

    58.55%

    41.45%

    Jules Mastbaum

    680

    56.7

    100%

    9.12%

    15.58%

    52.5%

    47.5%

    George Washington

    1866

    54.9

    57.77%

    10.93%

    18.43%

    55.36%

    44.64%

    W.B. Saul

    524

    54.2

    65.84%

    0.76%

    10.68%

    35.11%

    64.89%

    ASPIRA Olney HS

    1728

    53.5

    50.87%

    16.9%

    23.55%

    56.02%

    43.98%

    Eastern University Academy Charter School (7-12)

    353

    53

    64.31%

    0.28%

    11.89%

    43.06%

    56.94%

    Parkway Northwest

    258

    52.8

    100%

    0.93%

    9.69%

    37.6%

    62.4%

    Edison

    1274

    51.7

    98.43%

    25.2%

    21.42%

    54.08%

    45.92%

    Lankenau

    320

    51.6

    64.69%

    0.63%

    9.06%

    45.63%

    54.37%

    World Communications Charter School (6-12)

    561

    51.5

    59.54%

    2.85%

    8.2%

    43.67%

    56.43%

    Paul Robeson

    265

    51.2

    100%

    1.89%

    15.09%

    38.11%

    61.89%

    School of the Future

    399

    48.7

    100%

    1.75%

    17.04%

    51.38%

    49.62%

    New Media Technology Charter School

    405

    48.3

    81.23%

    0.49%

    16.04%

    50.62%

    49.38%

    Horace Furness

    550

    47.1

    100%

    38.73%

    16.9%

    58.36%

    41.64%

    Truebright Science Academy Charter School (7-12)

    307

    46.9

    55.37%

    0%

    11.7%

    50.81%

    49.19%

    Charter High School for Architecture and Design

    612

    46.2

    70.75%

    0%

    15.68%

    50.82%

    49.18%

    Roxborough

    476

    45.1

    100%

    1.26%

    23.94%

    53.36%

    46.64%

    Universal Audenried

    611

    45.1

    100%

    2.29%

    23.24%

    49.75%

    50.25%

    Mastery Simon Gratz

    1120

    45

    81.7%

    0.09%

    24.82%

    53.04%

    46.96%

    Abraham Lincoln

    1817

    44.4

    69.73%

    5.23%

    21.35%

    54.87%

    45.13%

    Delaware Valley Community Charter

    666

    42.6

    72.07%

    0%

    17.71%

    48.5%

    51.5%

    Fels

    1362

    42.2

    74.67%

    15.05%

    18.2%

    54.33%

    45.67%

    Boys Latin

    482

    40.9

    76.14%

    0%

    10.78%

    100%

    0%

    Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School (K-12)

    1024

    39.7

    99.02%

    4.79%

    12.01%

    44.73%

    55.27%

    Kensington Business

    370

    39.3

    74.32%

    15.95%

    28.91%

    61.89%

    38.11%

    Overbrook

    996

    38.9

    100%

    0.7%

    22.79%

    56.12%

    43.88%

    Frankford

    1387

    38.4

    100%

    10.89%

    26.38%

    58.18%

    41.82%

    MLK

    760

    38

    100%

    3.6%

    32.36%

    57.37%

    42.63%

    West Philadelphia

    815 

    37.9 

    100% 

    2.33% 

    23.42% 

    56.69% 

     43.31% 

    Kensington CAPA

    424

    37.5

    100%

    14.39%

    22.4%

    51.89%

    48.11%

    Benjamin Franklin

    546

    36.8

    100%

    16.12%

    26.73%

    55.13%

    47.87%

    Kensington Urban

    222

    36.7

    70.72%

    11.71%

    17.56%

    48.65%

    51.35%

    South Philadelphia

    658

    36.5

    95.14%

    26.9%

    25.98%

    58.21%

    41.79%

    John Bartram

    954

    36.4

    100%

    8.49%

    23.79%

    56.81%

    43.19%

    Kensington Health Sciences

    363

    35.5

    100%

    15.15%

    30.02%

    49.04%

    50.96%

    Strawberry Mansion 

    431 

     34.1 

    100% 

    0.23% 

    31.32% 

    51.04% 

    48.96% 

    Arise Academy

    158

    31.8

    100%

    0%

    44.93%

    36.71%

    63.29%

    Sayre

    505

    29.9

    100%

    0.2%

    23.16%

    53.07%

    46.93%

    Imhotep Institute Charter High School

    668

    29.7

    88.62%

    0.15%

    17.36%

    55.09%

    44.91%

    *The Military Academies of Elverson and Leeds combined before the 2013-14 school year.

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