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Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

Mentoring to curb student shootings, tougher criteria to become a teacher and data, data, data are some highlights from Schools CEO Ron Huberman’s speech Thursday to
a standing-room-only crowd at the City Club, where he outlined his
strategies for improving schools and promised more details in the weeks
to come. Mentoring to curb student shootings, tougher criteria to become a teacher and data, data, data.

Those are highlights from Schools CEO Ron Huberman’s speech Thursday to a standing-room-only crowd at the City Club, where he outlined his strategies for improving schools and promised more details in the weeks to come.

While acknowledging that public schools have a long way to go, Huberman also made clear that “there’s no question there has been progress”—perhaps in response to a Civic Committee ‘report’ that claimed rising test scores are a mirage because state tests were made easier in 2006.

Here’s some of what the new CEO, now seven months on the job, plans to do:

Safety and security: Huberman’s a former police officer, so if there’s one area where his experience ought to pay off, it’s here.

After combing through five years’ worth of data on student shootings, his team came up with a profile of those who are most likely to be victims of shooting: Most are African-American males (something that a review of news reports readily shows) with few credits, a high rate of absenteeism and a greater likelihood of being homeless and in special education. With that profile in mind, officials have identified students they believe are most at-risk; these students will get mentors (paid, not volunteer), support from social workers, and jobs.

“These kids are in trouble, and we need to help them,” Huberman said.

Top-notch teachers, principals: “If I could solve any problem, it would be the principal pipeline,” Huberman said. The district expects about 220 vacancies in the coming year or so, and that’s on top of a wave in retirements in the past couple of years.

So where to find these school leaders? Huberman promised to cast a net nationwide, noting that several of the new chief area officers are from out-of-state. He also called for alternative certification programs to bring in “people who are not necessarily educators, but are change agents.” That could be controversial, given the concerns in some quarters that educators are not getting due respect from the new administration.

Also in the works are higher minimum qualifications for prospective teachers, and a new screening tool to help principals winnow out the best candidates. Although he didn’t give details Thursday, both will be “major initiatives,” Huberman promised.

Data analysis: As we’ve reported, a centerpiece of Huberman’s approach is data analysis, with the goal of getting principals and teachers to use data to drive decision-making. To that end, top administrators in central office, the new cadre of chief area officers, and principals and school staff will be expected to hold weekly meetings to comb through data and figure out next steps to improve student performance. “Those conversations will be a critical lever for improving outcomes,” Huberman maintained.

The data strategy played into budget decisions this year, when the district scrapped programs that, according to internal evaluations, had lackluster results.

As with any program, the devil will be in the details. Catalyst will be following these initiatives as they develop.

14 comments

NatePeele wrote 4 years 51 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

I knew putting a bus guy in charge would pay off. This is the ideal strategy. Teaching is such a tough job we need to make the certification process much more rigorous. Also, the principal certification process is just too stringent. We need to open up alternative certification to get more change agents to become principals. There is no reason why teachers shouldn't have to spend several years perfecting their craft so that they can work for a principal with no education experience, but lots of cool ideas for change.

Watching The Circus In Town wrote 4 years 51 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

CPS and its approach to public education just gets funnier and funnier. You can fill a stadium with what the new "excellent teachers" can produce from their college education classes: portfolios, YouTube presentations, PowerPoint presentations, but put them in a classroom of ten-year olds that requires common sense and a strict demeanor and they crumble.

200 high risk students wrote 4 years 51 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

Do you remember the Wire when they did the episodes on education in Baltimore. They took the most high risk kids in the school and set up a classroom in the basement. They brought in mentors and college educators to teach these kids. For a few it worked, but the results were bittersweet. I miss that show!

Common sense wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

The solution is simple: Do not wait until the students are already at risk or 'maybe' at risk. Instead of waiting to see what happens, education needs to be targeted at the primary grades. Children cannot afford to be left on the back burner until they are suddenly a problem.

My suggestion: create classrooms of 12-15 students of mixed ages (K through 3rd) with 2 to 3 teachers present. Run it similar to a Montessori classroom -- students learn at their maturity level, not a predetermined level. Not every child is ready to learn how to read the first day of Kindergarten. Children can be almost a full year apart from each other in a classroom; that is the difference between being ready to write words and needing more fine motor skills development. Yet all of them are supposed to learn to write at the same time with the same proficiency.

In urban communities, it would be extremely easy to have college students in the classroom as part of their certification process. Not only do you get future teachers better prepared by actually being in a classroom, the children get an extra person to help them with skills and content. Having 1 or 2 extra people in the classroom to assist in questions, basic discipline, keeping children engaged, or simply helping kids out would be an invaluable resource.

There needs to be an investment made at the K-3rd level. School districts cannot keep waiting until the kids are failing to make an impact. Get the children a solid foundation in reading, math, and writing as early as possible. Reading is power and education, writing is communication, math is decision making and logic. We cannot wait until middle school or high school to start working on these skills.

Who will pay for it? The taxpayers. Duh. We're already paying for millions of dollars worth of "fixing" programs. Why not just invest the money to do it RIGHT the first time?

wire fan wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

The Wire "experiment" failed b/c the program was shut down when the researchers couldn't show improvements in test scores and the lack of alignment to state standards. The students were then sent back to their original classes.

Is that the, "If it fails, it's most likely to be implementation issues, not the ideas," comment by Mark Lipsey, director of the Peabody Center at Vanderbilt University (via the Chicago Tribune article)?

Speaking of the wire, now that there is an emphasis on data and performance management, how many people will try to "juke the stats"?

The future is now wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

"Speaking of the wire, now that there is an emphasis on data and performance management, how many people will try to "juke the stats'?"

It's already happening. It has happened for years and will only be accelerated to please the boss.

Move along; nothing to see here! Abandon all hope, ye who work in CPS!

Somebody Call Huberman on His B*ll *hit!!! wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

Will someone please call Mr. Huberman on his BS!!! Please.. When Huberman says he will improve teachers and schools, he has no idea what he is talking about. It is so evident by his response. To cover up for his ignorance, he has to "invent" a smoke and mirrors improvement policy that Ask for the details of his plan... and then compare it to the benchmarks of the technical report released by the National Staff Development Council this year on what is necessary to improve schools. ! Catalyst... can you call him on it?

http://www.srnleads.org/resources/publications/nsdc.html

Workshop overload. Research shows that professional development should not be approached in isolation as the traditional “flavor of the month†or one-shot workshop but go hand-in-hand with school improvement efforts. The report finds that teachers still take a heavy dose of workshops and do not receive effective learning opportunities in many areas in which they want help.

Little intensity, short duration. While rigorous studies indicate that intensive professional development efforts that offer an average of about 50 hours of support a year can make a significant impact on student achievement, raising test scores by an average of 21 percentage points, the majority of teachers in the United States (57 percent) receives no more than about two days (16 hours) of training in their subject areas. Fewer than one-quarter (23 percent) of all teachers receive more than 36 hours of professional learning in their subject areas.
Working in isolation. U.S. teachers report little professional collaboration in designing curriculum and sharing practices, and the collaboration that occurs tends to be weak and not focused on strengthening teaching and learning.

Major blind spots. Teachers are not getting adequate training in teaching special education or limited English proficient students. More than two-thirds of teachers nationally had not had even one day of training in supporting the learning of special education or LEP students during the previous three years, and only one-third agreed that they had been given the support they needed to teach students with special needs.

Don't forget.............. wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

..........the 21st day either! Your school might have a great mix of teachers now but come the 21st day, it could all change. You may be thinking, this year we can really do our jobs! If the student/teacher ratio is not what the board states it should be (whatever that number is, I don't know), a couple of teachers will be gone (reg. or SPED). More students will get crammed into one classroom and your class list just grew. Now, try to teach! Children First! Also, try implementing that new initiative. What is it this school year? Oh Yes, Differentiation! What a concept! What's that you say? You have been doing that all along! Really!? If it does not work there must be something wrong with you, not the program. (Isn't differentiation just another form of tracking?) So fellow teachers, don't get too comfortable. The board does not care about the students, the teachers, the principals or the schools, only the numbers! Have a great school year!

Oh gawd no.. wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

No, please.. no more "professional" development!! PLEASE NO!!!

I cannot even begin to describe the awfulness of PD. Every time people say they want more PD, you get "experts" brought in who repeat the same things everyone learned in under grad. Effective teaching is differentiation, a student centered classroom, and student engagement. If one of these so-called experts could give ONE example, I'd eat my hat!

Last year at a PD, we went through every type of disability possible to know what the term means (apparently autism isn't self explanatory?). We got to "Hearing Impairment" and we were told that it means, "an impairment of hearing." No kidding? Who'da thunk it?

Please. No more PD. It is a waste of time and energy. Teachers can learn more from spending time talking to each other about how to tackle problems, how to organize and prioritize, and a myriad of other things.

credibility wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

To all the 'educators' posting here. You have ZERO credibility. CPS was run by 'educators' for decades and where are we? The last year before Duncan came in the average meet+plus exceed score in a Chicago Elementary school was in the neighborhood of 30%! To this day 50% of students don't graduate HS.

You all sound like a bunch of whiney losers. Thank god leaders with common sense came in to shake up this mess. The children of Chicago thank them.

A Comment wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

The children of Chicago need parents to raise them. You can only feed, educate, and enrich children for a certain amount of time per day. Ultimately a child's success depends upon the parents. Where are they in Huberman's plan?

to credibility wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

Yeah. We're a bunch of whiners aren't we? Always being able to see the glaring issue with the "common sense" displayed. I guess that goes with being in the classroom every day and actually having experience, rather than being on the outside and criticizing.

There are plenty of crappy teachers, but there are also some very talented teachers who can see through the "common sense".

To Huberman and Daley Trolls: Compare Daley Practices to Rea wrote 4 years 50 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

To you Daley and Huberman Trolls, let me clue you in on something. Look at the practice of Daley and Huberman and don't compare them to the pre Daley run CPS schools. No one can defend either the pre Daley or the Daley run schools. To you trolls, Compare the practices of real world class school districts and how they get high performance from their teachers. They engage their teachers and not run away from them like the cowards that Daley and Huberman are! Folks of Chicago, Download this report and see how real world class school districts support and build professional capacity in the their schools! No need for charters, just true leadership from leaders who know what they are doing. Not a practice done by Daley. So trolls, compare the best practices with details and what Huberman is doing... if you have the courage to do that.

United States Is Substantially Behind Other Nations in Providing Teacher Professional Development That Improves Student Learning; Report Identifies Practices that Work

http://www.srnleads.org/resources/publications/nsdc.html

Just Curious wrote 4 years 49 weeks ago

Huberman outlines strategies to improve Chicago schools

I wonder where Huberman will get all of these great teachers since he, Arne Duncan. Mayor Daley and George Bush have destroyed the teaching profession completely. Any young person with half a brain should be able to see how horribly teachers are treated and run for their lives. The only ones that will apply are those who are desperate or rich (just needing to major in anything). Also, about teachers being better qualified, get serious they are more qualified than Huberman and look at all the authority that has landed in his lap. The truth is school doesn't matter, education or intelligence. It's who you know. (Like Daley) There are no better teachers out there. They have the best they just don't know what to do with them or how to treat them. I graduated from one of those alternative certification programs, I had the highest improvement in scores every year in reading and math. None of that matters if you are African American and over 40. A note to the young teachers, don't think you'll retire from CPS. Work for 5 years and get out if you can. (They turn over teachers at CPS faster than hot cakes.) Join the sororities and frats and you'll be fine as long as you don't make over $50,000 per year or turn black!

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