While Pennsylvania may be known for its role in U.S. history, railroad, coal, and industrial endeavors, and the Liberty Bell, did you also know that this state is home to several large school districts?
Known as “The Keystone State,” this state was the second state to enter the union in 1787. Known as the birthplace of democracy and for ratifying the constitution, Pennsylvania is now home to nearly 13 million people. With its long-standing American history and top-notch schools, Pennsylvania provides students with a quality education.
Let's dive in to learn more about eight of the largest school districts in Pennsylvania.
The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Total Number of Schools: 329
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 197,288
With nearly 200,000 students, the School District of Philadelphia is by far the largest in the state of Pennsylvania. Of the district's 329 schools, 217 are district-operated, 83 are charter-operated, and 29 are alternative education options. Even the large number of students are diverse in their enrollment with some in charter schools, alternative schools, and cyber charters.
The district is also very diverse with 173 languages spoken by students and families. Even with a large number of enrolled students, the student-to-teacher ratio is below the national average of 16:1. The School District of Philadelphia also offers Advanced Placement options, career and technical education programs, and 8 International Baccalaureate programs.
Pittsburgh Public Schools
341 S. Bellefield Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Total Number of Schools: 54
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 20,105
Of the 43 districts located within Allegheny County, Pittsburgh Public Schools is the largest. Of its 54 schools, 20 are Magnet schools and 85 are early childhood classrooms. There are also 23 elementary schools, seven middle schools, 4 high schools, 4 special schools, and several other mixed-grade schools. The district also offers CTE programs and an online academy.
Pittsburgh Public Schools employs nearly 4,000 people, with 1,863 being teachers. This creates an incredibly low student-to-teacher ratio of 12:1. This district is also incredibly diverse as 95 different languages are spoken by students with 57 countries being represented. About 1,100 students are English Language Learners as well.
Reading School District
800 Washington St., Reading, PA 19601
Total Number of Schools: 19
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Over 17,800
Located between Harrisburg and Philadelphia is the Reading School District in Reading, PA. This district is the sixth largest employer in Berks County, employing more than 2,000 staff members. While this district is large and in between two large Pennsylvania cities, it's also located in a high-poverty community. 93% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch prices.
The school district's mission, however, is to encourage and prepare their “dedicated, talented, intelligent and ambitious students.” The student-to-teacher ratio is 16:1 which is slightly higher than the national average. Additionally, 25% of students are English Language Learners who are learning to speak English as a second (or third) language.
Central Bucks School District
20 Welden Drive, Doylestown, PA 18901
Total Number of Schools: 23
Total Number of Students Enrolled: More than 17,000
Ranked as the best School district in Bucks County according to Niche is the Central Bucks School District. CBSD also ranks in the top 25 best school districts in the state and has very high proficiency scores in math and reading from its students. This district spans an area of more than 120 square miles and serves 9 separate municipalities.
Of the 23 schools, 15 are elementary, 5 are middle, and 3 are high schools. And, with more than 3,000 staff members employed, the student-to-teacher ratio is only 16:1. Additionally, Central Bucks boasts a 99% graduation rate with more than 90% furthering their education at 2 and 4-year colleges. With an average class size of 22.4 and more than 280 extracurricular activities for students to choose from, Central Bucks is definitely a high-performing district in Pennsylvania.
Allentown School District
31 S. Penn Street, Allentown, PA 18102
Total Number of Schools: 22
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 16,628
Located in the city of Allentown and the surrounding area is the Allentown School District. This district offers 15 early childhood and elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 3 high schools with 25 academic buildings throughout. It's also a very diverse district with students originating from 51 countries and speaking more than 26 languages.
Much of ASD families are denoted as low income and 100% of the students receive a free or reduced-price lunch. This district is also the third-largest urban school system in the state. Additionally, the district hires around 2,500 staff members, making the student-to-teacher ratio 16:1 which is slightly higher than the national average.
Downingtown Area School District
540 Trestle Place, Downingtown, PA 19335
Total Number of Schools: 16
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 13,250
Downingtown Area School District ranks in the top 25 best school districts in Pennsylvania. This district is known for its small-town charm, while still being able to offer students everything a large school district can. DASD covers 82 square miles in the heart of Chester County, PA. It also serves 8 different municipalities.
With a student-to-teacher ratio of 16:1, Downingtown Area School District has a staff of about 1,900 employees. Additionally, this district is diverse and students speak about 43 different languages. DASD's instructional vision focuses on three goals, as well: Academic rigor, student engagement, and student agency.
Bethlehem Area School District
1516 Sycamore St., Bethlehem, PA 18017
Total Number of Schools: 22
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 13,034
While the Bethlehem Area School District has more school buildings, its student enrollment is slightly lower than other districts. BASD is also the ninth most diverse district in the state according to Niche. The district is made up of 16 elementary schools (grades K-5), 4 middle schools (grades 6-8), and 2 high schools (grades 9-12). Childcare is also available in 15 of the elementary schools.
The student-to-teacher ratio matches the national average at 17:1. Advanced Placement and elective programs are also available for high school students. BASD offers a special Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering program to high school students, as well. Additionally, a vocational-technical program is available on a flex schedule.
North Penn School District
401 E. Hancock Street, Lansdale PA 19446
Total Number of Schools: 17
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 13,000
As the eighth-largest district in Pennsylvania, North Penn School District is 20 miles from Philadelphia. This district covers only 42 square miles but has a population of 98,000 residents. Of NPSD's 17 schools, 13 are elementary schools, 3 are middle schools, and all of the students combine into one high school. There is also one credit recovery school in the district.
North Penn School District employs about 2,000 staff members and the student-to-teacher ratio is low at 14:1. Additionally, the district's vision is to be “student-centered with a focus on academic challenge, meaningful experiences, and personal responsibility.” This has led to an initiative for each student and staff member to have the 21st-century tools they need to continue their education.
While Pennsylvania may be known for far more than its educational options, it's clear that these large school districts have a lot to offer their students. From educational opportunities to athletics, fine arts, and specialized programs, every student is sure to find their fit in one of the massive school districts in this state.
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