Current Issue

Teacher turnover

CPS has never had a strong, districtwide program of teacher induction and mentoring to stem an attrition rate that is higher than the national average. Instead, efforts to retain teachers depend on smaller-scale programs and individual principals who make it a goal to empower—and keep—their teachers.

Cover Stories

December 05, 2005

In December, the district will unveil a new high school "score card" that aims to give parents more information to help them pick the best high school for their teenagers.

December 05, 2005

If math teacher Delora Washington had her way, Corliss High in Pullman would be first in line to join the district's initiative to prod schools to adopt new, improved math curricula.

In fact, at the top of her wish list is one of the three mathematics curricula the board has already selected.

December 01, 2005

While the district's curricular models for math and science have won praise from teachers and experts, the models chosen for English have earned criticism.

Many students enter high school with below-average reading skills, skills that are particularly crucial when it comes to reading and analyzing nonfiction text. The current English curriculum does little to address the problem, teachers note. Yet the new curriculum models may not do much more: The district's request-for-proposals states only that new curricula should be developed "with attention to nonfiction text."

November 29, 2005

Shenice began cutting classes at Tilden High in New City shortly after Christmas break last year. She can't think of a reason other than "I just got bored." The 15-year-old failed four classes that semester, greatly boosting the chances she would not graduate on time.

November 02, 2005

Three years ago, Chicago Public Schools began to subdivide its most troubled high schools—Orr, Bowen and South Shore. The idea was that smaller learning environments would allow students to get more personal attention and closer supervision.

To a large degree, these objectives have been met: In a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, kids in these small schools reported closer relationships with teachers, more academic help and less violence among peers.

November 02, 2005

Anita Andrews, assistant principal at Gage Park High, likes to tell this story about her boss, Principal Wilfredo Ortiz:

Driving on 55th Street to a central office meeting, Ortiz spotted a group of truant Gage Park students strolling down the sidewalk. He pulled over, collected their ID tags and ordered them back to school. He went back, too, and called their parents. When he couldn't get through, "He got back in his car, went to their houses, and brought their parents back to the school building," Andrews recalls with amazement. "I don't know where he gets all that energy."

October 05, 2005

This summer, Principal Patricia McCann was in a quandary over the state pre-kindergarten program at Mays Elementary.

In June, Chicago Public Schools sent principals a memo announcing that full-day state pre-kindergarten programs would be converted to half-day in the fall. The move would serve more children and save money, district officials said at the time. Back then, Mays operated two full-day classrooms that served 40 low-income children, and had a waiting list of another 30 parents clamoring to get in.

October 04, 2005

Testing young children is a dicey proposition. On one hand, educators and policy-makers agree that finding out what preschoolers know and building on those skills is important. It is also essential, they say, to determine whether preschool programs are delivering the goods and sufficiently preparing youngsters for grade school.

Yet, early childhood experts warn that much is unknown about how best to teach reading and early math to 3- and 4-year-olds, and that too much emphasis on these academic skills could be detrimental.

October 04, 2005

This fall, CPS unveiled at South Loop Elementary a new all-day preschool program for poor and middle-class children—a three-part mix of Head Start, state pre-kindergarten and the district's own tuition-based preschool. Before the opening, however, CPS Early Childhood Education Officer Barbara Bowman had eliminated all full-day state pre-K programs, a move that affected some 900 children.

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