The Philadelphia school reforms are on the right track. In 2002, before the school reforms on which I led the effort were put in place, only 29 percent of students were advanced/proficient in reading and 19.5 percent in math. Today, 38 percent of students are advanced/proficient in reading and 41 percent in math.
Today, more pupils are graduating; first-year teacher retention has increased; more students are taking Advanced Placement courses; the number of charter schools has increased; faith-based partnerships have grown; and the number of home and school associations has doubled. Perhaps most significantly, poor and disenfranchised Philadelphians finally have more good choices and options, a phenomenon usually reserved only for the rich or the politically connected. In 2002, Philadelphia had 38 high schools with an average population of about 1,700 students; today we have 82 high schools with an average student population of 800, and half with fewer than 500 students.