October 31, 2011
CPS released today proposed school actions guidelines that will be used to help identify the district’s lowest performing schools and those communities in need of better performing school options. CPS is committed to ensuring that parents and students have access to high quality schools in every community in order to fulfill the district’s mission of increasing student academic achievement and graduating every student college and career ready.
Over the next 21 days, the public will be able to comment on the draft guidelines, which will provide CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard with additional input to consider in releasing proposed actions that could be taken at the district’s most low performing schools by December 1. A copy of the guidelines will be available for review at every CPS school, while the public can also view them and leave comments via CPS.edu (www.cps.edu/qualityschools), by email, by fax and by mail.
CPS will review student academic performance at schools citywide and use the new guidelines to identify the lowest performing schools in communities across the city. The school actions guidelines will provide clear and transparent information on how schools are chosen to be considered for actions and what metrics are being used to define underperforming schools.
“Our students cannot afford to wait any longer for a quality education, and that is why we must ensure our students are receiving the level of instruction needed to boost their academic performance,” CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said. “We are committed to providing every student with a high quality education that prepares them for college and career. Our students only receive one chance at a good education and they do not get to do school over. They deserve the best possible education today. These guidelines will serve as one of the tools we will use to provide students with better, higher quality school options in their communities.”
The challenges facing our district and our students are many. There are more than 123,000 students in underperforming schools throughout the district, representing nearly one-third of all seats in CPS. In 2011 only 7.9 percent of all 11th graders tested college ready, while and the graduation rate stands at 57.5 percent. The achievement gap between African American and Caucasian elementary students was 31.3 percentage points having increased 13 points in the last five years alone. Similarly, achievement gap between Latino and Caucasian students was 27.1 percentage points, an increase of 7 points in the last five years. At the high school level, the gap is even more dramatic: 44.5 percent for African-American students and 33.4 percent for Latino students.
The draft guidelines focus on identifying schools with track records of poor performance and outline the exact criteria being used to place schools on the list to be considered for the following actions: reassignment boundary change, phase-out, co-location, school closure, or school consolidation. CPS will review both school performance and a school’s performance relative to the performance of other schools in the surrounding community.
The Performance Policy establishes standards and criteria for placing a school on Remediation or Probation for the 2011-2012 school year based on tests administered in Spring 2011 and other performance data from prior school years. The school’s rating is based on its performance on a variety of student outcomes, as well as its improvement over time.
The proposed guidelines include:
- First, the lowest performing schools in the district will be identified using CPS’s Performance Policy measurements. Schools rated “level 3” for two consecutive years will be included in the pool.
- Next, schools with a pattern of underperforming other schools in their network – including low test scores and low graduation rates – will remain on the list.
- Finally, schools with low school improvement rates will remain on the list.
The school actions list will be further refined by taking into account other significant factors that influence school quality, including the school climate, condition of facilities, quality of leaders and community feedback. After reviewing all of these factors, the CEO will determine which schools will be proposed to the Board for consideration.
For actions taken such as closures and consolidations, students will be moved into better performing schools in their area but, unlike the past, CPS will make additional investments in these receiving schools to make them even better. Those investments could include:
- School safety analysis
- Social emotional supports
- Academic program investments
- Art and music programming
- Afterschool programming
- Professional development
- Additional administrative positions
- School based health clinics
- Capital improvements.
This year’s process includes numerous opportunities for gathering feedback from parents, community and other key stakeholders on draft guidelines. Comments on the guidelines can be sent by November 21st via:
- E-mail to email@example.com
- The CPS.edu website at: www.cps.edu/qualityschools
- Fax to 773-553-1559; Attn: CEO’s Office re: Draft Guidelines
- Mail to Chicago Public Schools, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60603, Attn: CEO’s Office re: Draft Guidelines
- Parents and community members can also pick up copies of the guidelines at their local schools
Proposals for school action will be announced by December 1, as required by SB 630, which later became law. Detailed informational packets will be delivered to every member of the school staff and every parent/guardian. Elected officials and LSC members will be fully briefed as well. The information packets will include all the details about the proposal, the public hearings and community meetings, and the new educational options available to students. The same information will also be mailed to the students’ home address at the same time. The Chicago Board of Education will make the final decision on the proposed actions.
CPS has already taken several steps to follow the requirements set forth by SB 630, as well as having met with members of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force (CEFTE) several times to gather feedback on these guidelines. The new administration has welcomed the opportunity to work with the Task Force and looks forward to building on their early relationship.
There will also be significant opportunity for the public to provide feedback on any proposed school actions, including three opportunities per school action to gather feedback, including two separate community meetings and one formal public hearing. In addition, stakeholders can provide feedback through the CPS website, emails and by attending Board of Education meetings in December, January and February. CPS will also continue to collect feedback from the public via its website at CPS.edu.
Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.