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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Case Study

Memorial High School

The years from 1995 to 2000 in Philadelphia saw the introduction of sweeping educational reforms under a comprehensive plan called Children Achieving. In addition to major shifts in teaching practice and reorganization of individual schools and school groupings, the School District of Philadelphia set higher standards and began to measure progress through the introduction of performance measures.

When Children Achieving began, Memorial High School had very few students performing at or above the basic level in any subject area on the SAT-9, and scores have increased only marginally over the course of the reform. While the principal who served at Memorial from 1990 to 1999 was in many respects a visionary leader willing to embrace the most difficult changes required of the reform, his authoritarian leadership style created a climate of fear and mistrust. The hostile work environment, combined with several other factors - inadequate supports to help teachers change their practice, little parent and community involvement, and student apathy - made implementing the reforms difficult at Memorial. As a result, teaching and learning at Memorial changed very little over the course of the reform. While a new principal started at the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year, his reform agenda remains unclear, and the climate of hostility and mistrust between teachers and the administration remains.

Publication Date

January 2011