The partnership between Penn, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers that supports the successful and innovative Penn Alexander School in West Philadelphia has been extended through 2021. The University will continue to provide an annual contribution of $1,330 per child, as much as $700,000 a year and a range of other services.
Hailed as a gold standard by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Penn Alexander was created in 1999 and provides high-quality educational opportunities through reduced class sizes, innovative curricula and support and guidance from Penn, particularly the Graduate School of Education.
Penn Alexander also offers students at the University state-of-the-art teacher training opportunities.
“Nothing is more important to the health and vitality of a community than the quality of its public schools,” says Penn President Amy Gutmann. “The Penn Alexander School illustrates this important fact every day. This agreement recognizes the partners’ wish for Penn Alexander’s continued success and supports the University’s goal to enable every child to benefit from proven educational practices at this award-winning public school.”
The school held its first classes in 2001, moved into its new building in 2002 and since then has earned more than three dozen teacher, student and institutional awards, and has garnered outside grants to fund music, art, health and environmental programs.
Last year, Penn Alexander enrolled 605 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, 70 percent of whom are children of color. Forty-six percent of students are from economically disadvantaged families. Twenty-one different languages are spoken at the school and 38 children are enrolled in the school’s Head Start program.
“This partnership has been invaluable,” says Sheila Sydnor, principal at Penn Alexander. “I am humbled by the extraordinary level of support for the school. Our student success is evidence that these types of partnerships work.”
Consistently ranked among the Top 10 schools in the district, Penn Alexander has achieved Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal benchmark for student achievement, every year it has been eligible.
Arlene Ackerman, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, says Penn Alexander “demonstrates how valuable educational partnerships can be in the lives of our young people.”
Jerry T. Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, says that in Penn Alexander, the district, Penn and the federation have created “the school that every child deserves.”
“It’s a testament to what we can accomplish when we work together,” he says.