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Promoting Success by Ending Social Promotion

Thursday June 2004


Paul G. Vallas Chief Executive Officer, School District of Philadelphia

Introduction Remarks: Hon. Herman Badillo, Former Chairman, City University of New York; and Former Deputy Mayor, City of New York

Paul Vallas was appointed in July 2002 to the position of Chief Executive Officer for the Philadelphia School District, after six years at the helm of the Chicago public school system (1995-2001). In Chicago, Vallas’ commitment to educational excellence and fiscal responsibility helped to transform the nation’s third largest school system from one of the nation’s lowest-performing to a national model—while eliminating a $1.3 billion budget deficit in his first two years.

Among his most notable achievements was ending social promotion using a combination of high-stakes testing and supplemental education. Mr. Vallas ended social promotion in Chicago out of recognition that Chicago High School diplomas had lost their value in the labor market—high school graduates faced life with a diploma, but without marketable skills even for entry-level jobs.

As CEO of the Philadelphia School District, Vallas has shown continued commitment to ending social promotion and strengthening the value of high school diplomas. Vallas has begun after-school programs in reading and math for lowperforming students in third through eighth grades, and any student who performs below grade level on standardized tests must attend summer school or be held back a grade.