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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Case Study

Walker High School

Walker High School is a large Philadelphia comprehensive high school with a predominantly Latino student population. Unlike other Philadelphia high schools, Walker enjoys a new, wellmaintained facility, a relatively stable faculty, and dedicated, if small group of parents ready to support the school.

After the Children Achieving reform began, Dr. Jones, a new principal came to Walker and quickly embarked on an ambitious reform initiative and adopted a whole-school reform model, Talent Development. His effort improved school climate and established a new school organizational structure. Changes such as the establishment of a Ninth Grade Academy and block scheduling contributed to creating closer, more caring relationships between teachers and students. While the majority of Philadelphia high schools struggled to adopt some aspects of Children Achieving, Walker was one of a few to attempt a significant reform effort.

Some of these have paid off. For example, the school has shown promising gains in the ninth grade as a result of the reform’s concentration on the creation of a Ninth Grade Academy. However, despite the principal's hard work and good intentions, the reform has not had an equal impact on the core areas of curriculum and instruction. We explore some of the possible reasons for this below, including a large, but overcrowded school building, a lack of resources, and a culture of low expectations for students.

Publication Date

January 2011