The state of Pennsylvania requires all public schools to file an annual "Safe Schools Report." Schools are supposed to keep track of all incidents that occur throughout the school year in various categories and submit the final tallies to the state. While private schools are not required to submit safety data, all Archdiocesan-run Catholic schools in Philadelphia collect and record similar data. GPS retrieved the incident reports from the state and the Archdiocese and used them to rank and then rate most schools on safety.
There are many types of incidents that appear on Safe Schools reports. They range from heinous crimes like sexual and aggravated assaults to weapons and drug possessions, and they also include categories that wouldn't necessarily be treated as crimes but are considered offenses in a school setting: bullying, fighting and minor altercations. This last category is reserved for violent acts that don't amount to fights because the victim does not fight back. Although the state provides definitions for each type of offense, the types overlap enough that there is certainly variability in how different schools choose to report similar incidents. Parents and students should keep this in mind when looking at safety ratings on GreatPhillySchools. Be sure to ask a school for details if you are concerned about its safety rating.