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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Case Study

Children Achieving Callenge Overview

In February 1995, shortly after the School Board of Philadelphia adopted Children Achieving as a systemic reform agenda to improve the Philadelphia public schools, the Annenberg Foundation designated Philadelphia as one of a few American cities to receive a five-year $50 million Annenberg Challenge grant to improve public education.

Among the conditions for receiving the grant was a requirement to raise two matching dollars ($100 million over five years) for each one received from the Annenberg Foundation and to create an independent management structure to provide program, fiscal, and evaluation oversight of the grant. In Philadelphia, a business organization, Greater Philadelphia First, assumed this responsibility, and with it, the challenge of building and sustaining civic support for the improvement of public education in the city.

Philadelphia’s Children Achieving was a sweeping systemic reform initiative. Systemic reform eschews a school-byschool approach to reform and relies on coherent policy, improved coordination of resources and services, content and performance standards, decentralization of decision-making, and accountability mechanisms to transform entire school systems. Led by a dynamic superintendent and central office personnel, Children Achieving was the first attempt by an urban district to test systemic reform in practice.

Publication Date

January 2011