Suburban Achievement

May 30, 2008

More children of color are moving to the suburbs, and No Child Left Behind is forcing school districts to confront an achievement gap with white students.

Table of Contents

Plainfield: A boom in diversity

John Myers

Like many things in Plainfield—a booming suburb 30 miles southwest of Chicago—Heritage Grove Middle School is new. Of the 26 schools that make up Plainfield District 202, 16 were built in the last decade. Many of the students are new as well: The district enrolls 9,500 more children today than it did just five years ago, a 60 percent increase and the biggest growth spurt of any school system in the six-county metro area. Around Heritage Grove is the evidence of Plainfield’s growth—spacious single-family homes that have replaced mile-upon-mile of farmland.

A spike in diversity is...

Elgin: Coping with culture shock

John Myers

At a school board meeting in May, principals of the five high schools in Elgin Unified District 46 read the names of the 60 seniors with the best grades and their plans for college. Robert Flynn will study political science and economics at Augustana College. Sarah Ko will study chemistry at the University of Rochester in New York. Ravi Khadiwala will study economics and math at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

The students who cross the stage to receive their awards are a steady stream of white and Asian students, with few Latinos and African Americans. It is an...

Not just Chicago anymore

John Myers & Lorraine Forte

In Wheaton Consolidated Unit School District 200, nearly all 900 teachers are white. So are most of the students in this affluent suburban community, located 25 miles west of Chicago in well-heeled DuPage County.

But that’s changing.

Wheaton’s schools are considerably more diverse today than they were just five years ago. White enrollment is down 10 percent. African-American and Latino enrollment is up 13 percent. Minority students, including Asians, now comprise nearly a quarter of Wheaton’s 13,600 student population, and their numbers continue to grow.

Wealthier...

Posted May 30, 2008: Forced to announce another year of disappointing ACT scores, Schools CEO Arne Duncan last summer sought to temper the news by talking up the district’s investment in strategic improvements, highlighting some $3.5 million earmarked for test preparation.

Posted May 30, 2008: Forced to announce another year of disappointing ACT scores, Schools CEO Arne Duncan last summer sought to temper the news by talking up the district’s investment in...
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By: Anonymous

Friday Feb. 29

Today was another boring day full of testing.

Friday Feb. 29 Today was another boring day full of testing. We had to take two practice tests today for the PSAE (Prairie State Achievement Exams) or Work Keys. The state of...
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We at Catalyst have spent much of the past year exploring ways to serve you and, therefore, our city’s children better. Our new vision is an expansive one that is based on what more than 200 people told us in interviews, focus groups and surveys:

We at Catalyst have spent much of the past year exploring ways to serve you and, therefore, our city’s children better. Our...
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With the continuing evolution of the school improvement movement and the revolution in the media, Catalyst has adopted a new mission statement and guiding principles to increase our effectivness.

Our mission:

To improve the education of all children through authoritative journalism and leadership of a constructive dialogue among students, parents, educators, community leaders and policy makers.

With the continuing evolution of the school improvement movement and the revolution in the media, Catalyst has adopted a new mission statement and guiding principles to increase our effectivness...
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Communities In Schools bills itself as the country’s largest dropout prevention organization and envisions schools as the center of a community. Bill Milliken founded the organization more than 30 years ago in New York City as a “street academy” to give a second chance to young people who had dropped out. It now operates in 3,400 schools across the country, including 152 in Chicago. Milliken’s recent book, “The Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic,” chronicles his organization’s work.

Communities In Schools bills itself as the country’s largest dropout prevention organization and envisions schools as the center of a community. Bill Milliken founded the organization more than 30...
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In March, on a Saturday during spring break, more than 400 young people and some adults attended the youth-sponsored forum “Gang Wars and Community Violence” at Little Village Lawndale High School. Adults were the minority at this event. Young people were concerned enough about the issue to come to this conference on spring break.

In March, on a Saturday during spring break, more than 400 young people and some adults attended the youth-sponsored forum “Gang Wars and Community Violence” at Little Village Lawndale High School....
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Jason Gill had a knack for beating the odds. Part of that knack came from his curiosity. In a room full of 6th-graders at Fiske Elementary, Jason was the one student whose sheer desire to know drove him out of his seat to get a closer look, to get his hands on the subject matter, to ask questions fearlessly and sincerely.

Jason Gill had a knack for beating the odds. Part of that knack came from his curiosity. In a room full of 6th-graders at Fiske Elementary, Jason was the one student whose sheer desire to know drove...
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If teachers at Westcott can raise test scores and pass performance evaluations this year, they will take home an average of $2,000 in extra pay. Support staff will also get bonuses. But money was not the primary reason Westcott became one of 10 schools to participate in the district’s pay-for-performance pilot.

“We don’t teach for the money,” says kindergarten teacher Leah Coffey. “The motivator was having time to share our practices and learn new strategies.”

If teachers at Westcott can raise test scores and pass performance evaluations this year, they will take home an average of $2,000 in extra pay. Support staff will also get bonuses. But money was not...
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When Chicago Public Schools rolled out its performance-based pay plan for teachers, the district tapped into a national trend in school improvement strategy.

More and more urban districts are embracing the idea of extra pay for teachers who work in hard-to-staff schools and who produce bottom line results for students. State or local pay-for-performance initiatives are underway in 25 states and other areas are considering them. Utah approved incentive pay legislation this spring, and plans to roll it out in the fall.

When Chicago Public Schools rolled out its performance-based pay plan for teachers, the district tapped into a national trend in school improvement strategy. More and more urban districts are...
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Anew coalition of community groups is working to involve parents in what has been a controversial initiative: school turnaround efforts on the West Side. There, three small high schools at the Orr campus will close in June and reopen this fall as one high school, and two feeder elementary schools will get an academic overhaul, too.

Anew coalition of community groups is working to involve parents in what has been a controversial initiative: school turnaround efforts on the West Side. There, three small high schools at the Orr...
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For teens to re-enter Chicago Public Schools upon release from Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, a form letter is faxed to their neighborhood school.

Principal Sean Stallings of Manley High School admits that he cringes a bit whenever he sees such a fax coming through.

“In truth, we are not excited,” he says. “We are already juggling a lot of tough tasks and [this fax] means one more will be coming.”

For teens to re-enter Chicago Public Schools upon release from Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, a form letter is faxed to their neighborhood school. Principal Sean Stallings of Manley High...
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At Johns Middle Academy, Principal Althea Hammond brought in counselors to help the staff and students deal with the loss over the school’s closing.

This fall, students from Johns and its feeder school, Miles Davis, will move into a brand-new building built for Davis, which will become a magnet school for engineering. Although Johns students generally perform below standards required for the selective school, district administrators say Johns students will be admitted to the new Davis. 

At Johns Middle Academy, Principal Althea Hammond brought in counselors to help the staff and students deal with the loss over the school’s closing. This fall, students from Johns and its feeder...
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Parents of Von Humboldt Elementary students are always welcome in the building. Principal Christ Kalamatas has even set aside a room just for them.

He wants parents of Roque De Duprey students to feel equally welcome when they move into the building at 2620 W. Hirsch St. this fall. To that end, Kalamatas has already set aside a room for De Duprey parents; parents from the two schools have already met, and an assembly is planned to bring together the two faculties.

Parents of Von Humboldt Elementary students are always welcome in the building. Principal Christ Kalamatas has even set aside a room just for them. He wants parents of Roque De Duprey students to...
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RENAISSANCE FUNDING   Starting this fall, new and existing Renaissance 2010 schools will have to pay more to use district facilities. The fee, which covers maintenance, custodial services, utilities and technology services, will increase from $775 per student for elementary schools and $1,025 per student for high schools to $930 and $1,351 per pupil, respectively. For the first time, the district will also give the turnaround schools additional per-pupil funds of $420 for elementary schools and $500 for high schools.

RENAISSANCE FUNDING   Starting this fall, new and existing Renaissance 2010 schools will have to pay more to use district facilities. The fee, which covers maintenance, custodial services, utilities...
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Teach for America, the national program that sends top-tier college graduates to teach in high-needs public schools, has a new mission: Early childhood education.

Chicago is the largest effort, with 21 Teach for America teachers now committed for two years to community-based early childhood programs on the South and West sides. Next year, 30 additional teachers will be placed in community preschools. (The initiative is also in place in Washington, D.C., and New York City.)

Teach for America, the national program that sends top-tier college graduates to teach in high-needs public schools, has a new mission: Early childhood education. Chicago is the largest effort, with...
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Elgin is working to reform its classrooms, but the effort is set against a backdrop of stark differences among schools in different neighborhoods.

Elgin is working to reform its classrooms, but the effort is set against a backdrop of stark differences among schools in different neighborhoods. Since 2005, Elgin has spent nearly $4.6 million...
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Besides Westcott, these schools are participating in the district’s pay-for-performance pilot this year:

  • Cameron
  • Gresham
  • Lawndale Community Academy
  • LEARN Charter
  • McCorkle
  • Multicultural Arts High School, Little Village Campus
  • Sumner Academy
  • Telpochcalli
  • Wells Prep

These 10 schools will join the pilot this coming fall:

Besides Westcott, these schools are participating in the district’s pay-for-performance pilot this year: Cameron Gresham Lawndale Community Academy LEARN Charter McCorkle Multicultural Arts High...
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