Holy Family University Educational Leadership Doctoral Student Kelly Espinosa’s Success Featured in Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders

The success of South Philadelphia’s Fanny Jackson Coppin Elementary School Principal Kelly Espinosa, an educational leadership doctoral student at Holy Family University, was recently featured in an article in the Philadelphia Academy of School Leaders. Coppin students’ data points, garnered over the last five years of Pennsylvania System of State Assessment (PSSA) testing, showed a math increase of 37.6% and English language arts benchmark improvements of 23.7%, with a reduction in the number of students scoring as Below Basic Proficient in math by 16.1% - more than any other school in the School District of Philadelphia.

"Since the start of her doctoral work, Kelly Espinosa has expressed a sincere desire to  examine trends in mathematics instruction and use data to drive change,” said Holy Family professor of education Dr. Helen Hoffner.  “She has continued to use her research skills and experience to guide teachers in improving their practice. “

Espinosa, who has an instructional coaching background and was the recipient of a Neubauer Fellowship, has carefully built a strong adult culture over her past seven years at the helm, creating a school climate that leverages data and tools to inform instructional coaching in ways that drive student achievement. Following a granular examination of the data, she identifies trends and creates subsets of teachers and students to receive strategic supports.

“Disproportionality and closing that gap is really important to me,” Espinosa said in the article.  “You can look at disproportionality in different ways. You can look at it through the equity lens of race and ethnicity. You can look at it through the lens of gender and gender identity.  You can look at it through the lens of English Language Learner status, special education status, socioeconomic status. A huge piece of the data that is normally ignored is the qualitative part, the kids’ experience.  It’s important to me that we’re not making assumptions about what kids need.”

Because coaching was so influential in her own practice, Espinosa is intentional about ensuring coaching is effective for her own team and that the coaching is data-driven and focused on collaboration and small, actionable feedback.


Jan Giel