Supporting Early Readers in Philadelphia Charter Schools

The Philadelphia Education Research Consortium (PERC) and the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) are studying K-3 literacy instructional practices in Philadelphia charter schools.

This research study will scan the literacy education practices and strategies used in Philadelphia charter schools in grades K-3, including classroom instructional strategies, teacher training and collaboration, and targeted interventions for struggling readers. Researchers will ask school representatives to describe the goals of their literacy programming, the strengths and challenges of their chosen program, and the additional resources that would most help their school’s literacy program.

This research study is important because Philadelphia civic and education leaders have identified early literacy as a citywide priority, with the goal of supporting all students to read at grade level by the end of third grade. Reading proficiency is a strong predictor of a child’s future education success and employment outcomes. We hope that understanding the practices and strategies charter schools use will contribute to knowledge-sharing across schools and identify areas for support and investment.

This research study seeks to involve every Philadelphia charter school serving K-3 students. PERC and CPRE staff will gather information through confidential interviews. Every Philadelphia charter school serving K-3 students will be invited to designate a representative to share their school’s approach to early literacy development. PERC and CPRE staff will first contact each schools’ principal for guidance on who that representative should be. These representatives may be literacy specialists or coaches, literacy teachers, or another instructional leader knowledgeable about early literacy practices.

Charter school interviews will be conducted in March-April 2018 with findings made available to schools and the public in Summer 2018. Each interview will be kept confidential: neither the names of people interviewed nor the names of schools will be used in any presentation of results or findings. Our analysis will look for themes across schools, and the report will summarize practices across all schools involved in the study.

The research will be conducted by PERC and CPRE. PERC is a research-practice partnership devoted to conducting research that informs improvement in the Philadelphia public school sectors, both charter and non-charter. PERC is an initiative of Research for Action, a nonprofit education research organization based in Philadelphia. CPRE is an education policy research center based at the University of Pennsylvania. CPRE’s work examines the relationships between educational policy and organizations, school and classroom practice, and the impact these issues have on student learning. The William Penn Foundation provided funding for this work as part of its goal of supporting early literacy in Philadelphia.

For more information, please contact Monica Mielke, PERC researcher and project director, at or 267-295-7779.

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