How Philadelphia compares with other big-city school districts

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

The fall 2014 edition of an annual report called Managing for Results in America’s Great City Schools provides data from 2012-13 comparing the School District of Philadelphia and about 40 other big-city school districts on key performance indicators for information technology.

Philadelphia’s results fell near the bottom among big-city districts nationally on most of the technology indicators.

• Average age of computers, at 5.07 years, was the second oldest.

• Computers per employee (not counting computers for student use), at 0.62, was the fourth lowest.

• Computers per student (not counting staff-assigned computers), at 0.32, was the fourth lowest.

• Advanced presentation devices (interactive whiteboards, digital projectors) per teacher, at 0.46, was the fifth lowest.

• Information technology (IT) spending as a percentage of the budget, at 0.70 percent, was the third lowest.

• IT spending per student, at $96, was the fourth lowest.

• Help-desk call abandonment rate, the percentage of service calls where the caller gave up, at 25.9 percent, was the worst of all districts.

One indicator where the Philadelphia District stood out positively was bandwidth per thousand students, an indicator of the system’s data capacity and speed. Philadelphia ranked first of all districts reporting. Philadelphia ranked third best on a related measure: It had among the fewest days where network use approached the system’s capacity.

The study was published by the Council of the Great City Schools last October. District officials acknowledge that the problem areas have not improved since then.