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College and careers

An overhaul of the district’s career education programs seeks to make classes more challenging and put career-track students on the path to higher ed, but many schools have lost programs, and fewer students are participating overall.

New Schools

How school closings, openings, charter schools and private school enrollment are affecting Chicago Public Schools.
From the February, 2006 issue of Catalyst-Chicago 10 years of mayoral control

134 new schools open, 60 close

Two years ago, Mayor Daley pledged to close low-performing schools and create 100 new ones under his Renaissance 2010 initiative. The new name merely underscored school openings and closings that had been ongoing since the mayor took control.

Since they were established by state law in 1996, charter schools have grown rapidly, beginning with seven sites the first year charter schools opened in Chicago and growing to 34 campuses today. The board recently paved the way for 13 more charter and contract schools to open in September.

Another growth spurt is tied to the appearance of small high schools, many of them created by the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative and funded primarily by $20 million in grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These small schools have been created either by converting large high schools, such as Bowen and South Shore, or by closing old schools and replacing them with new ones, like Al Raby School for Community & Environment. A recent nationwide evaluation suggests that the Gates-funded new schools work better than those the foundation supported for conversion.





Types of schools opened and closed by year

OPENED

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

TOTAL

Regular

12

2

2

4

2

3

11

10

7

13

66

Charter/Contract

0

7

4

3

2

3

2

8

3

10

42

Specialty

2

8

1

1

0

1

0

8

3

2

26

CLOSED

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

TOTAL

Regular

0

0

2

2

1

2

5

8

13

5

38

Charter/Contract

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

1

3

Specialty

0

1

0

1

1

2

0

10

4

0

19

Note: High schools are counted as closed when they no longer accept freshmen. Source: Consortium on Chicago School Research and Catalyst analysis


Private school enrollment share down

According to U.S. Census data, Chicago's public schools picked up a greater share of school-age children throughout the 1990s while private school enrollment declined by 17 percent. Between 2000 and 2004, private school enrollment dropped even further, from 16 percent to 14 percent of students living in the district's attendance area.

District efforts to attract more middle-class families into the system had an impact. In 22 communities where 75 percent of families were earning close to middle income or above, the number of school-age children in public schools jumped 13 points, from 47 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2000.

In certain communities, public schools are capturing a higher share of white school-age children, too. Despite a decline overall, white enrollment rose in 13 areas, including 10 that are among the wealthiest, and nine that are mostly white. At Oriole Park Elementary in Norwood Park, white enrollment went from 42 percent to 71 percent between 1989 and 2005—a violation of a districtwide desegregation consent decree, which restricts white enrollment at any school to 70 percent or less.



Chicago children enrolled in an elementary or high school

1990

2000

2004

Public school enrollment

391,046

424,832

409,036

Private school enrollment

101,138

83,694

67,009

Percentage of students enrolled in public schools

79%

84%

86%

Source: U.S. Census (Note: Census figures do not include kindergarten enrollment and are based on statistically accurate estimates, not actual counts.)


Are charter schools better?

Experts: Higher scores could be result of motivated kids

During the 2004-05 school year, 19 charter schools* were operating in Chicago with just over 10,000 students. Compared to Chicago Public Schools' general population, these schools enroll a higher percentage of African-American children and slightly fewer who are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, a proxy for poverty.

While charters often serve disadvantaged communities, some researchers argue that charters, by requiring prospects to register for a lottery to be admitted, are drawing more motivated students. Such differences in populations make it difficult to draw conclusions about charter performance compared to neighborhood schools because there's no way to tell whether gains are the result of the charter school's efforts or students' own abilities.

Still, district averages can set benchmarks for charters, and the most recent results show charters have higher graduation rates and lower dropout rates. They also report a higher percentage of students reading at or above standards in 8th grade; and high school test scores that are on par with the district.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Charters

Overall

PERFORMANCE

Charters

Overall

Enrollment

10,085

410,874

ISAT reading, 8th

69%

60%

Bilingual

5%

14%

PSAE 3-comp

30%

31%

Poverty Rate

79%

85%

Dropout rate

20%

30%

White

4%

9%

Graduation rate

68%

57%

Black

66%

50%

* Excludes Youth Connection Charter, a collective of 23 alternative schools for high school dropouts. Sources: Catalyst analysis of CPS and Consortium on Chicago School Research data

Asian

2%

3%

Latino

28%

38%

Native American

.2%

.2%