Item Coversheet

Action Item - 56.

Title: Contract with Center for Black Educator Development for Freedom Schools Literacy Academy ($95,000)

Board of Education Meeting Date:

Action under consideration

 The Administration recommends that the Board of Education authorize The School District of Philadelphia, through the Superintendent or his designee, to execute and perform a contract, subject to funding, as follows: 

The Center for Black Educator Development 

Freedom Schools Literacy Academy, a five-week in-person summer program

 Start date: 5/29/2023

 End date: 8/31/2023
 Compensation not to exceed: $95,000 
Duckrey, Tanner G. School

 Renewal Options:  No


Why is this contract needed?
Each year, the School District of Philadelphia (District) and its partner organizations offer a variety of summer programs to ensure that students, the opportunity to continue learning during the summer months. The Center for Black Educator Development will provide the Freedom Schools Literacy Academy (FSLA), a five-week in-person summer program that is based around developing a context of understanding culture. During the summer of 2023, up to 60 rising 1st through 3rd-grade students and up to 12 high school students will participate as scholars and apprentices. The program will take place at Duckrey Elementary and participation will be open to all District students. The success of this summer’s literacy academy will impact future programming decisions.

How is this work connected to the District’s plan to achieve Goals & Guardrails?
The FSLA was designed to address educational inequalities and our nation’s racist history that have created unconscionable achievement gaps. The FSLA model supports the District’s goal that every student reads on or above grade level and every student graduates ready to succeed in college, work, and life. Additionally, the District is taking critical steps toward addressing racist practices to ensure students’ potential will not be limited by practices that perpetuate systemic racism and hinder student achievement. The FSLA lifts this work by meeting the unique needs of young Black and Brown children from disenfranchised communities while at the same time strengthening the school-to-activism pipeline for the next generation of exceptional educators. Participating high school students will earn evidence toward Act 158 graduation requirements which supports the District’s college and career readiness goal.

How will the success of this contract be measured?
Consistent with past practice, the Office of Research and Evaluation will conduct a program evaluation of the summer programs organized by the District. The final report will provide a summary of the summer programs, including information about enrollment, attendance, and findings from surveys and observations. The successes and challenges of program implementation will provide insights and guide implementation for summer 2024.

If this is the continuation of a contract, how has success been measured in the past, and what specific information do we have to show that it was successful?
While the District is still in the beginning years of contracting with the Center for Black Educator Development to implement the FSLA, data is available that supports a strong track record of success in urban settings. In the summer of 2021, FSLA programming was offered to 288 elementary students and 78 high school students, and 54 college students. The following are highlights from the 2021 results:

High School Students: 1) Increase in Positive Racial Identity. High school students reported statistically significant increases in positive racial identity, and specifically in learning about their history, traditions, and customs, thinking about how their life will be affected by their ethnic group membership, and having a strong sense of belonging to other Black/Brown people.

2) Increase in Academic Self-Efficacy. High school apprentices showed statistically significant growth in areas of academic self-efficacy, mindset, habits of mind, and strategies for academic and personal success. 90% agreed that participating in the program will help them focus more on their education. 92% agreed they know they can complete difficult tasks. 93% agreed that even when things are tough, they can perform quite well. 95% agreed they know what to do when they come across difficult reading content. 89% agreed that they acquired the academic skills to do whatever they decide to do. 86% agreed they have strategies for handling academically challenging tasks. 88% agreed that when they need help they know how to ask for it. 84% agreed that they believe they are developing strategies that will help them overcome challenges.
Scholars: 1) Gains in Early Literacy Skills. Students in grades 1-3 increased their reading ability by an average of 2.29 levels in the Friends on the Block Literacy Curriculum, an early literacy intervention (a 33% increase from level 6.96 to 9.25 in five weeks). This increase was statistically significant for students across virtual and in person programming and students with higher or lower pretest scores. Students with higher pretest scores increased an average of 1.7 levels, and students with lower pretest scores increased an average of 2.6 levels. 2) Increase in Positive Racial Identity. Elementary students were given a pictorial self-report scale of ten items in which they could comment on their attitudes on racial identity, reading, schoolwork, effort, adults, and knowledge of Black books and history. They reported increases in all ten items from before to after FSLA. There were statistically significant increases in the total score on knowing books about Black people, learning about the successes of Black people, and doing the best work they can at school. Correlations among these attitudes were calculated before and after FSLA. Before FSLA, high ratings on the item, “I am Happy I am Black/Brown'' were significantly correlated with high ratings on “Adults Care about Me.” After FSLA, high ratings on “I am Happy I am Black/Brown'' were significantly correlated with high ratings on “I do the Best Work That I Can at School,” “I am Special,” and “I Know Some Books Written about Black People.” This pattern suggests that after FSLA, Black early elementary students associate being Black/Brown with hard work, being special, and knowledge of their racial heritage.

When applicable, is this an evidence-based strategy? If so, what evidence exists to support this approach?
The FSLA integrates proven best practices with a culturally responsive, affirming, and sustaining early-literacy curriculum that is aligned with the District’s Academic Framework. During the program, expert educators will coach aspiring college student-teachers and work with high school apprentices interested in exploring careers in education to provide up to sixty participating rising 1st through third-grade students the personalized literacy boost they each need.

Reading is a bedrock skill for success in school, college, the workplace, and life. Studies show students’ higher racial-ethnic pride correlates with higher achievement as measured by grades and standardized test scores. They also show that when Black students have Black teachers, they do better in school. When they have one Black teacher by 3rd grade, they’re 13% more likely to enroll in college. With two Black teachers in the mix early on, that stat jumps to 32%.

 Related resolution(s)/approval(s): 
May 26, 2022; No. 49
 Funding Source(s): 

FY 22-23 Operating

 Office Originating Request: Academic Support