October 3, 2011
More than 80 Chicago Public Schools applied for one of 30 positions to serve as Early Adopters of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), underscoring a strong desire among Chicago’s principals and teachers to embrace a more rigorous curriculum to boost student achievement. These new standards, designed to prepare all students for success in college and careers, will transform the quality of instruction in all classrooms, guiding what is taught at every grade level in literacy and math.
Due to the high level of interest and the high quality of applications, the district has expanded the number of Early Adopters, selecting thirty-five schools to serve as Early Adopter “leads” and choosing another 25 as Early Adopter “support” schools. These schools are from across Chicago and represent the city’s geographic, ethnic and economic diversity.
“As the Chicago Public Schools move towards a longer school day, everyone agrees that our schools need to use the additional 90 minutes of instruction to teach a richer and more rigorous curriculum and boost student achievement in the classroom,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “Empowered school leaders are stepping up, to embrace and lead the integration of the Common Core State Standards into our district system wide next school year. Together, longer school days and Common Core curriculum will help close the achievement gap and fulfill our goal of making every CPS student college and career ready.”
Brizard has established as a key priority of a longer school day one that will include instruction that incorporates the new Common Core State Standards. Along with more time on task in reading, writing, math, science and social studies, students will also benefit from enrichment opportunities like art and music, which studies show help boost student achievement. The District intends to increase the length of the school day by 90 minutes of additional instructional time for the 2012-13 school year. CPS currently has the shortest day in the nation, short-changing both students and teachers, Brizard said.
The need for rigorous curriculum standards and a longer day to help close the achievement gap is striking. Recent data show a 31.4 percent achievement gap on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test between white and African-American elementary school students who exceed state standards. For Hispanic students, the gap is 27.2 percentage points. The gap becomes even wider in high schools. For high school juniors, there is a 42.1 percentage point gap between white and African-American students meeting or exceeding state standards, with a 30.9 percent gap between white and Latino students. Furthermore, a new report from the Chicago Consortium on School Research revealed that this achievement gap is even larger today than it was 20 years ago.
CEO Brizard said he wants the District to get a jump start on having a CCSS-aligned curriculum in place in all of its schools in 2012-13, even though the state of Illinois won’t test the new Standards until the 2014-15 school year. According to the Council of Great City Schools, CPS will trail other larger urban districts and the state in preparing students to meet Common Core benchmarks if it doesn’t start now. Based on their calculations, if students were tested on the new Standards now, Chicago would have only 19 percent of students meeting expectations in comparison to the state at 46 percent.
The Early Adopter applicant pool of 83 schools included neighborhood, magnet and selective enrollment elementary schools as well as 17 CPS high schools. Thirty-five schools have been identified as Early Adopter Lead Schools—all teachers at the Lead Schools will participate in ongoing professional development and planning. Another 25 schools will participate as Support Schools. Teacher leaders from Support Schools will participate in the quarterly work sessions with Lead schools.
One of the Early Adopter Lead Schools, Melody Elementary, is among the CPS schools that will lengthen its school day as part of the District’s Longer School Day Pioneer Program. Another school in the program, Skinner North Elementary, is a Support School.
All Early Adopter schools will create and share the examples of standards-based unit plans, grade-level tasks and exemplars of student work that will help guide schools across CPS in implementing the Common Core. This work will be conducted through quarterly work sessions with all Common Core teachers and ongoing school-based support.
CCSS is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators and educational experts. The standards are informed by the highest and most effective teaching and learning models and will provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn. Consistent standards will provide appropriate benchmarks for all students regardless of where they live.
Applicant schools were asked to complete essays that detail the type of work they’ve already done with better aligning their curriculum and classroom instruction to state or national standards and ensuring instruction is conducted at a high level. Applicants also had to list the names of the administrators and teacher leaders who were committing to this work and to submit a sample that provided further evidence of the level of standards-based instruction at their schools.
A committee of curriculum and leadership coaches from Network and Central offices then judged applicant schools. The committee came to consensus on the scoring criteria for the essays and artifacts and underwent training to ensure fairness and reliability in the scoring process. Top scoring candidates were reviewed to ensure adequate diversity of school types/locations and adequate representation of schools with high ELL and special education populations.
“It’s important to emphasize that all faculty members in these schools have taken on this commitment to devote additional time to conducting in-depth analysis of the quality of curriculum, instruction and the assessment of how well students have mastered the material,” Brizard said. “They have also committed to showcasing their work to the rest of the district. These schools are to be congratulated for taking the first step in advancing the level of instructional rigor across CPS.”
Early Adopter Lead Schools include: George Armstrong, Barton, Brighton Park, Camras, Canter, Carter, Chalmers, Cooper, Dumas, Evergreen, Hernandez, Higgins, Hitch, Logandale, Madero, Mann, McClellan, Melody, Mitchell, Peterson, Ryder, Schubert and Tonti Elementary Schools.
Also, Amundsen, Chicago Military Academy, Clark, Clemente, Farragut, Foreman, Harper, Juarez, Lincoln Park, Multicultural, Senn and Taft High Schools.
Support Schools include: Support Schools include: Addams, Ames, Armour, Azuela, Colemon, Gallistel, Grissom, Hedges, Henderson, Herzl, Kershaw, Libby, Northwest, O.A. Thorp, Perez, Rogers, Skinner North, Walsh, and Williams Middle School.
Corliss, Daniel Hale Williams, Hirsch, Rickover, Robeson and Sullivan High Schools.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.