STRATEGIES IN THE SPOTLIGHTCitywide Education Progress Reports
IMPROVING SCHOOL QUALITY AND FIT
MEETING STUDENT NEEDS
INVOLVING FAMILIES IN SCHOOL SYSTEM DECISIONS
SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH CHOICE PROCESS
TAKING COLLECTIVE ACTION
PHILADELPHIA: Using Parent Perspectives to Achieve Academic Transformation
Over the past two years, SDP has created more meaningful pathways for community participation on the school and system level through newly redesigned School Advisory Councils (SAC) and a new Family Academy Courses and Training (FACT) program. The SAC program has existed for several years, but in 2016, the district shifted policy to require each school to include an SAC and expand the roles and responsibilities of members. SACs now advise school leaders on budget, academic improvement, and other school community issues.
The district is taking steps to train school council members through the new FACT program so members can more deeply understand school-level data, budgeting, curriculum, and other topics. Principals are given training and support on how to effectively partner with their SACs.
School advisory councils are a strategy that other cities are exploring, but SDP’s efforts to support these councils through training members and school leaders is a promising practice. While the new FACT program is still building capacity to meet parents’ needs, leaders report that in the long run they will know the program is successful if parents trust the district as a partner, and leaders are able to stand with parents to advocate for students. As the program grows, leaders will need to ensure that SACs are representative of the school community, and that they open up avenues to broader system engagement.