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A Think Twice Review of:

State Takeover, School Restructuring, Private Management, and Students Achievement in Philadelphia

Think Twice - May 07, 2007

Publisher/Think Tank - RAND Corporation in partnership with Research for Action (RFA)

Author(s) -

These two reports examine the impact of private and district management on student achievement in Philadelphia. In 2002, Philadelphia restructured 86 of its lowest-achieving schools and shifted the management of some of them to private companies. The RAND-RFA report concludes that private management has had no impact on math or reading achievement, while district management had a positive effect on math achievement but none on ready. The PEPG report reached virtually the opposite conclusion. It found that private management has had a positive effect on math and reading achievement, while district management has had no measurable effect.

Reviewer(s) - Derek Briggs, University of Colorado at Boulder

Briggs’s review of both reports finds that both have flaws and that neither is yet sufficient to make definitive claims about the effects of Philadelphia’s school restructuring reform. He indicates that the different conclusions reached in the reports can largely be explained by the fact that PEPG did not have the same access to data as did RAND-RFA. He also identifies and describes the methodological weaknesses in both reports. Briggs commends the reports for contributing to the understanding of Philadelphia’s experience, but recommends that neither report be used as a basis for decision making about school restructuring.