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Document Number: 3553

Powerful Ideas, Modest Gains: Five Years of Systemic Reform in Philadelphia Middle Schools - Beginning in 1995, Philadelphia’s systemic reform effort, Children Achieving, aimed to raise academic standards, not just for the city’s early adolescents, but for all students. Its architects aimed to demonstrate that every student could achieve proficiency in the three core subject areas of mathematics, reading and science by 2008. In theory, the reform plan appeared to be a good match for what ailed Philadelphia’s middle schools, but in practice, the reforms produced modest gains for middle grades students in reading and science, and made limited headway in addressing the abysmally low achievement of students in mathematics. This report details what happened in middle schools during the Children Achieving reform effort and explains why reforms fell short of their intended outcomes. It is based on research conducted by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education and Research for Action over a five-year period. (Jolley Bruce Christman, December 2001)...

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