In 2013, the Economy League and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey released the Global Positioning Strategy (or GPS) for World Class Education and Talent Development in  Greater Philadelphia. This GPS outlines goals, priority strategies, and key indicators to help focus and guide cross-sector collaboration toward improving education outcomes in our region. This GPS is the culmination of a multi-year regional priority setting and strategy development effort facilitated by the Economy League that has engaged more than 1,500 cross-sector leaders from around the Philadelphia area.

Education and Talent GPS

Greater Philadelphia has a talented workforce where every resident has the skills needed to compete in the global economy.

The Agenda

World Class Strategies

  • Increase the number and accessibility of high-quality early learning slots
  • Increase demand for high-quality early learning
  • Implement coordinated kindergarten readiness assessments

World Class Strategies

  • Improve K-12 teacher effectiveness and school leadership
  • Strengthen connections between education and career opportunities
  • Increase parental/ caregiver involvement in their children’s education

World Class Strategies

  • Improve postsecondary access and completion rates
  • Increase access to and completion of industry-valued certificates and credentials
  • Attract and retain individuals with postsecondary degrees 

World Class Strategies

  • Expand employer-led workforce efforts
  • Build core competencies to prepare individuals for on-the-job training
  • Align education and training programs with regional economic opportunities 

The Latest

Giving More Kids Access to High-Quality Early Education

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In…

High-Quality Pre-K: A Wise Investment

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Contributing writer John Miller explores why both local and national business leaders are advocating for increased investment in high-quality early learning programs. This article is the second in a two-part series following the World Class Council Forum focused on early childhood education.

States Lead on Early Childhood Education

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At last month's World Class Council forum, leaders from Alabama and Denver shared lessons about how they've increased access to high-quality pre-k. We asked contributing writer John Miller to take a closer look at how they are achieving success -- and how Pennsylvania's efforts stack up.

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Current Campaign

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Pre-K for PA

In January 2014, the Economy League joined with statewide partners to launch the Pre-K for PA campaign. The campaign's goal is to ensure that all Pennsylvania children are ready to succeed by ensuring that every 3- and 4-year-old in the Commonwealth has access to high-quality pre-kindergarten. Leading up to the gubernatorial election this…
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Early Learning

School Readiness

Standardized kindergarten readiness assessments are used to improve early learning and help close achievement gaps. The three states in our region are on the path to adopting standardized assessments.

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Progress Toward Implementing Standardized Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (2014)

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Most schools in our region already use some kind of tool to assess children when they begin kindergarten. However, the tools used by individual schools and districts vary. This patchwork assessment structure prevents us from getting an accurate picture of the overall preparedness of children in Greater Philadelphia at this crucial first transition point. 

Delaware is the only state in the region to adopt a mandatory assessment. The state is currently in the implementation phase with full roll-out planned for the 2014-15 school year. New Jersey has piloted an assessment but has not set a timeline or guidelines for implementation. Pennsylvania has developed its own assessment, the Kindergarten Entry Inventory (KEI). Beginning in 2014-15, the KEI will be required for low-performing schools and voluntary for all others.

Progress Toward Implementing Standardized Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (2014)

    • School Readiness Table

A coalition of organiziations in southeastern Pennsylvania, including the Economy League and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to work with the commonwealth and local stakeholders to maximize use of the Kindergarten Entry Inventory in this region. 

Early Learning

Pre-K Access

Public programs provide access to pre-k for children in low- and moderate-income families who cannot afford it. In Greater Philadelphia, 34% of the children in these families are enrolled in these programs.

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Percentage of 3- and 4-Year-Olds Below 300% of Poverty Enrolled in Publicly Funded Pre-K*

Early Learning

Early Literacy

Third-grade reading proficiency is the first consistent outcome measure of early learning; on average, the counties in our region currently lag behind their respective states.

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Percentage of Students Proficient or Advanced in Grade 3 Reading*

K-12 Education

College & Career Readiness

Students' reading and math scores are on par with the state averages in both states for which data are available.

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Percentage of 11th Graders Proficient or Advanced in Reading and Math*

K-12 Education

On-Time Graduation

On average, 83% of Greater Philadelphia's students graduate on time (above the national average of approximately 80%); however, there is wide variation across counties in the region.

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Students Graduating in Four Years by County*

K-12 Education

Disconnected Youth

Compared with other large metros, a relatively small share of Greater Philadelphia's youth is not in school and not working; however, percentages within the region range from 6.4% (Chester County) to 18% (Philadelphia County).

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Percentage of Youth Not Enrolled in School and Not Working, Ages 16-24, by Metro Area (2010)

Postsecondary Credentials

Degrees & Certificates Awarded

Institutions in our region awarded approximately 11,000 more degrees and certificates in 2012 than in 2008 - an increase of 15%.

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Number of Degrees Awarded by Regional Institutions & Certificates Awarded by Public Community Colleges (2008-2012)

Postsecondary Credentials

Educational Attainment

While Greater Philadelphia's degree attainment rate currently ranks 6th among the 10 largest metros, we've seen the third-highest growth rate over the last five years (from 38% to 40%).

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Percentage of Population with an Associate, Bachelor's or Advanced Degree (25 and Older) by Metro Area (2012)

Workforce Readiness

Poverty Rate

While Greater Philadelphia's poverty rate is relatively low compared with other large metros, there are vast disparities within the region. The city of Philadelphia's poverty rate remains one of the highest among major cities.

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Percentage of Individuals Living in Poverty by County (2012)

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Workforce Readiness

Labor Force Participation

In 2012, nearly 78% of working-age adults in Greater Philadelphia were engaged in the labor force, placing our region in line with the national average and in the middle of the pack compared with peer metros.

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Labor Force Participation Rate for Working-Age Population*, by Metro Area (2012)

Workforce Readiness

Median Income

While the recession has caused real incomes to decline in our region and across the US, Greater Philadelphia's median household income has remained relatively stable compared with peer metros in recent years.

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Percent Change in Real Median Household Income by Metro Area, 2012 Dollars (2008-2012)*

Making an Impact

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Standardizing Kindergarten Readiness Assessments

In partnership with the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children and the Public Health Management Corporation, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Economy League have received a highly competitive $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with additional support from the William Penn and PNC Bank Foundations, to implement a two-year campaign to standardize kindergarten readiness inventories in Pennsylvania. Read More >>

Learn about other efforts that are making an impact in education and talent development in Greater Philadelphia >>


Developing the Education & Talent Development GPS

During the first half of 2012, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Economy League brought together a 30-person Education and Talent Development Strategy Team to identify and build consensus around a prioritized set of strategies for our region. The education and talent development vision and aspirational goals for Greater Philadelphia presented in the Economy League’s Focus 2026 report framed this group’s work.

The World Class Education and Talent Development goals evolved from the Focus 2026 report and focus on improving outcomes in four critical phases of the cradle-to-career pipeline: early childhood education, K-12 education, postsecondary credentials, and workforce readiness. As the World Class education and talent development priority is about both increasing individual opportunity and spurring regional growth, the goals reflect both these individual and regional perspectives and their importance.

To support the Strategy Team’s work, the Economy League summarized current research related to the key drivers of success for each goal and completed an analysis of current assets, challenges, and opportunities specific to our region. Over a period of several months, the team discussed and debated the most promising strategies for Greater Philadelphia to focus on to reach the 2026 Education and Talent Development goals. The recommendations that emerged from this intensive collaborative work serve as the basis for this GPS.

From a lengthy initial list of potential strategies, the team selected just three for each major stage of the talent development continuum for regional leaders to focus on over the long-run. The team then further narrowed this list to five priority strategies considered the most promising for immediate collective action across the entire continuum. These immediate priority strategies were viewed as being at the intersection of addressing crucial needs and capitalizing on current assets and opportunities in Greater Philadelphia. Throughout the GPS, these immediate priority strategies are highlighted with quotes from regional leaders on why we should focus our collective energies on them now.

As with organizational strategic plans, this GPS does not go so far as to lay out detailed tactics, but rather identifies the types of strategies and collaborative efforts that offer the greatest impact and “bang-for-the-buck” to make progress toward shared goals. The strategies presented in this GPS point toward opportunities to support and scale existing efforts in our region to maximize impact, as well as areas where new initiatives and investments are needed. It sets the stage for immediate initiatives and campaigns to be taken on by World Class partners and provides a framework for ongoing research, monitoring, and strategy adjustment by the Economy League.

As an open-source regional strategy framework, it is expected that this GPS will evolve over time and serve as a living document that can be updated to accommodate input from additional regional stakeholders or shifts in the education and talent landscape. The ultimate success of the GPS, however, will be measured by the extent to which regional leaders and organizations align behind its goals, metrics, and strategies and develop and implement work plans guided by its recommendations.