April 23, 2014
CHICAGO – The Chicago Board of Education today approved Dvorak Technology Academy, Ronald E. McNair Elementary School and Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School to implement the proven “turnaround” model in School Year 2014–2015 (SY 14-15). The vote today comes after Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett recommended the turnaround process to elevate these three chronically underperforming schools, continuing the District’s effort to strengthen neighborhood schools and provide high-quality options for students and their families.
"CPS is committed to ensuring that all of our students have access to a high-quality education and strong school leadership that will provide them the foundation necessary for academic success.” said CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett. “We do not take a decision to bring systemic change to a school lightly, but when change is in the best interest of our students, we will not waver. We will continue to work with these school communities to ensure a smooth transition that will put these students on a path to be 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound.”
After announcing its recommendations in March, CPS held a series of meetings to engage the three school communities around this process. Feedback was collected and reviewed from two community meetings and a public hearing prior to today’s Board vote.
The District has a thorough review process to determine which schools might benefit from AUSL’s proven turnaround approach. This year, the District looked at almost 50 schools that had a Level 3 rating in each of the last two years and were currently on academic probation. In making its final determinations to the Board, CPS sought input from current and past Network Chiefs regarding each individual school’s principal and staff, the quality of its academic program, the school’s culture, and its academic performance data compared to other low-performing schools within its Network and across the District.
Beginning this summer, these schools will be managed by the Academy for Urban School Learning (AUSL), which has a demonstrated track record of success in turning around some of the District’s most challenged schools, improving academic opportunities for more than 17,000 students in the past five years.
For more than a decade, AUSL has improved schools from the ground up, demonstrating increases in school attendance rates, academic growth and engaging school environments that put student on a path to success. AUSL currently operates 29 schools and teacher training academies throughout CPS in neighborhoods such as Austin, Dunning, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and South Shore.
Turnarounds have a laser focus on driving student learning and improving achievement immediately, providing additional academic support in core subjects, implementing a high-quality instruction aligned to the Common Core State Standards and setting transparent goals for schools, staff and students to reach. The turnaround process will bring highly qualified staff, including union teachers, who are specially trained to help meet the specific needs of the children at low-performing schools.
Over summer break, the three schools will receive targeted facilities upgrades, including: new paint, technology upgrades and new furniture from CPS. These physical improvements demonstrate a new leadership and new standards in place for students when they return in the fall. Leadership, teachers and staff come together over the summer to prepare for the coming year. Before school starts the school team host events, such as back to school picnics and participates in community walks to meet students and families. These investments are a key component of the turnaround method, signaling a fresh start for students as they get on a path to success inside the classroom.
Working in some of the District's most challenging environments, AUSL has had a profound impact on academic performance and school culture. On average, students enrolled in AUSL turnaround schools outpaced the District on the percentage of making or exceeding average growth in core subjects including math and science on NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments. Furthermore, 13 of 16 AUSL turnarounds outpaced the District average on ISAT meets or exceeds growth since undergoing the turnaround process. For more information on AUSL, visit http://auslchicago.org/.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.