Archdiocese of Philadelphia Uses Performance Series® Metrics to Drive Strategic Planning

Teachers and administrators now receive immediate and meaningful student data that they can use for planning, for marketing, and for monitoring progress.

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia secondary school system serves over 14,000 students in ten suburban and eight city schools. Academic highlights include:

  • 98% graduation rate
  • 96% of students advance to post-secondary education
  • In 2012, over 2,400 students received over $250M in scholarships
  • 17 college partnerships enable student to earn early college credit while still in high school
  • Students earned a mean combined SAT score of 1498
  • Over 50% of students who took Advanced Placement exams in 2012 earned scores of 3 or higher

They achieved this kind of quality through careful, data-driven strategic planning.

Six years ago…

Individual schools were working hard but had no common metrics to use to tell the story of their success. The lack of common metrics resulted in little collaboration around achievement, with each school creating its own strategic plan. Identified goals in the individual schools’ plans were difficult to measure effectively within each school and impossible to measure across schools.

Each school used costly paper-and-pencil standardized assessments administered in the Fall with results sent to the schools months later. In part due to this delay, teachers and administrators at the schools did not find the results useful and so reviewed them with little interest. Scores from teacher-created semester and final assessments did not aggregate to school-level departments or to the district office. Because tests were developed and administered locally, the district had no ability to aggregate or disaggregate data for student sub-groups, school, classroom, or district trends. 

Worst of all, eight instructional days each year were spent doing nothing but administering assessments:

  • Fall Standardized: two days
  • Semester Assessments: three days 
  • Final Assessments: three days

…and yet no meaningful data were produced. The Office of Catholic Education had no way of knowing system-wide achievement based on its academic standards. Without this information, marketing efforts were less focused, and system-wide strategic planning was nearly impossible.

Enter Performance Series criterion-based assessments from Scantron.


The archdiocese adopted Performance Series for its high schools in the 2011–2012 academic year. They administer the computer-adaptive assessments three times a year during the English Language Arts and Mathematics class periods. Using these assessment tools gained them:Nationally normed, computer-adaptive diagnostic assessments created for the Common Core State Standards that provided information to quickly pinpoint the proficiency level of their students.

Results data available immediately after the test administration, easily aggregated and disaggregated from district to student level with a few mouse clicks.User-friendly reports that they can use for planning, marketing, and monitoring student progress.

Using these assessments returned eight instructional days to their academic calendar, reduced their assessment costs by 50%, and provided results immediately, not six or eight weeks after the assessment.“Before, we used to lose an entire day to assessments. Now students take the assessment in a regular class period…for example, students are in math and doing math,” notes Cary.

The archdiocese also started using Achievement Series for end-of-course district testing in a variety of subjects. “Our data is good and I love being able to know how the entire 17 schools scored on the end-of-course assessment,” states Cary. “We plan to focus more fully on Achievement Series in the 2013-2014 academic year.”


Based on immediately available results, the archdiocese and its schools can identify specific and measurable strategic goals. They can tell their story more effectively to funding sources, making the case for targeted expenditures, then proving the return on those investments in student success.Now, real collaboration can begin:With readily-available, current student results, school staff can engage in meaningful problem-solving by sharing, learning, and implementing successful strategies as identified by student outcomes. 

Parents and students can understand progress better and set appropriate—and achievable—goals.The district can identify effective places to seek and apply funding and market its educational success to grow enrollment.

Performance Series metrics provide the information the archdiocese and its dedicated instructors need to make strategic, data-driven decisions that truly improve student achievement.

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