Searching for Schools on GreatPhillySchools

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We believe that every student in Philadelphia should have access to a great school. Our website and print guides contain program descriptions and contact information — as well as performance data covering academics, safety and student engagement — for elementary, middle, and high schools in Philadelphia. 

Policy makers and school leaders use all kinds of data in managing schools and systems. While much of this information is publicly available, it is often presented in confusing ways. We have simplified its presentation so that you can more easily research and compare schools. Our numerical ratings can be used to identify schools that deserve a closer look. But before choosing to apply to a school, you should definitely take that closer look.

Keep in mind that every student has different learning needs, so there is no one school that is best for every student. Without question, Philadelphia needs more great school options. But it has many, and some are not enrolled to capacity. We hope GreatPhillySchools will help you find the best choice for your family.

GPS Ratings

GPS ratings help make it easier to find and compare schools in Philadelphia, but they are not intended to be the only factor families use in judging whether a school is a good fit for a particular student. In the end, a school must be a personal choice — one that is made on the basis of a student’s needs, capabilities and interests.

As you think about choosing a school, consider what you want the outcome(s) to be for your child. Is it developing a passion for school? College? A career? Use the GPS ratings and the information provided by the schools to see if one might be a likely fit, but don’t stop there. Call or visit the school and ask for proof of the outcomes you want for your child.

Finally, keep in mind that GPS ratings only compare schools to one another. Because the city’s schools as a whole underperform those in the rest of the state and the nation, an average school here is below average nationally. We hope this won’t always be the case, but for now it is the reality.

Some Schools Don't Have Ratings

As you go through this site, you may notice that some schools do not have ratings for some or all of our categories. This is particularly true for many of the private schools listed in this guide. A school may not have ratings because:

  • The school is new and data is not available to calculate ratings.
  • The school does not administer the Keystone, PSSA, Terra Nova, and/or SAT standardized test exam.
  • The school does not report academic, attendance and/or school incident data to GPS.

Additionally, Catholic and private schools do not receive a PVAAS report and therefore are not eligible for the High Academic Growth indicator. This does not mean that Catholic and private schools are not demonstrating significant student growth. Rather, there is not currently a system to reliably compare private school growth to district and charter school growth.

We produce Overall ratings for schools that have ratings in Math, Reading, and at least two of the following categories: School Incidents, Attendance, and College Bound (for high schools). Even if a school doesn’t have ratings, that school may still be great, but speaking with the school becomes even more important.

Searching for Schools on

Search by Any Criterion (or None)

Use as many of the search tools as you’d like. None is required. You can click on the “Search Schools” button without filling out anything to get a list of every school in the GPS database.

By School Names

Type in a school’s name as accurately as you can remember it. If you don’t get the result you’re looking for, try shortening the name. (A search for the “John A. Smith” school may not return a result for the “John B. Smith” school, but a search for “John Smith” will return all schools with John Smith in the name.)

By Address

Type in a Philadelphia street address or zip code. If you want, select a distance to limit search results to those within a specific radius.

By Neighborhood

Use this option instead of an address. Address searches will list results by proximity; neighborhood searches will list all schools within a neighborhood but not necessarily in the order of distance from your home.

By Overall Quality

For this and other rating categories, if you leave it blank you will see all schools meeting your other search criteria. If you click on 5+ or one of the other numbers, you will get results only for schools with that rating or higher.

By Grade Level

Searches for elementary schools will yield schools serving all or some grades from kindergarten through eighth. Middle schools will include schools that serve all or some grades from fifth through eighth. High schools will include those that serve ninth through 12th grades.

By School Types

There are three kinds of public schools, none of which charge tuition.

  • Public district schools generally have open enrollment for students living in the zone around the school.

  • Most public charter schools are open to students citywide, and if oversubscribed they must choose students via a lottery that gives all an equal chance at admission.

  • Public special-admission schools require applications, and in some cases they have minimum grade and test-score requirements.

Private schools charge tuition, although many offer full or partial scholarships.

  • Catholic schools are the most common type of private school in Philadelphia; they include religious instruction but don’t require students to be Catholic.

  • Private independent schools can be religiously affiliated or not.

How Results Are Sorted

If you search by address, results will be sorted by proximity to the address given. All other searches will be sorted by overall quality, from highest to lowest. (Schools lacking enough data to receive an overall quality score will appear last in such a list.)

Changing How Results Are Sorted

When looking at a list of search results, you can click on the header in any column to re-sort according to the ratings in that column.

Comparing Schools

Click on the “Compare” box at the right for up to four schools, then click the “Compare” button. You will be able to review up to four schools at once side by side.

Viewing School Profiles

Simply click on the name of a school at any time to view that school’s full profile page.

More Information
Looking for more information on finding a great school? See all articles here.