Philadelphia’s “Small Learning Communities”

Funded by the Annenberg Challenge in late 1994 Philadelphia’s school district adopted the ambitious “children achieving” plan that included reorganizing its schools into neighborhood clusters and breaking every big school up into “small learning communities”. Virtually all students in comprehensive high schools were affiliated with such a unit during the 1995-1996 school year, and hundreds more were beginning in elementary and middle schools. Philadelphia defined small learning communities as having the following traits:

-heterogeneous, including all children
-multi-year, providing a close relationship among students, parents, and teachers lasting longer than one school year
-unified, built around a theme or an instructional approach
-instructional promoting strategies that help students reach high standards
-collaborative, providing time for teachers to work together and grow professionally
-connected, with students and teachers spending most of their time in one community
-empowered, having the authority and resources to design their own instructional program
-accountable, responsible for improving student performance
small, having fewer than 400 students

from the Consortium on Policy Research in Education, Evaluation of the Children Achieving Initiative; Report on Year One, May 1996.