Become a Catalyst member

Join the conversation

We encourage our readers to leave comments and engage in dialogue about our stories. But before you do, please check out our "rules of the road."

Subscribe to catalyst-chicago.org by e-mail

catalyst-chicago.org feeds

Current Issue

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.

Dozens of schools meet closings criteria

About 140 schools, most on the South Side, meet all the key components of the district’s draft criteria to be eligible for closing.

This week, the district is holding community forums on the proposed criteria. Sometime after Nov. 21, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard will issue final guidelines. A week and a half later, on Dec. 1, he must announce which schools he intends to close, according to state law. Principals say they have been told that the list is changing every day and that no firm decisions have been made.

Once closing decisions are announced, that will set off another round of public hearings about the specific actions. Dozens of community residents showed up to speak against the potential closings at a hearing Monday night. A recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that school closings in six urban districts (including Chicago) have not yielded substantial cost savings in the short term, although the long-term impact is not yet clear.

Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat told School Board members last month that academic performance will be the overriding factor in deciding which schools will close. Those schools rated at Level 3--the district’s lowest level based on ISAT test scores, growth in test scores and a few other factors-- for the past two years made the first cut.

However, elementary schools with ISAT test scores above that of neighboring schools, and high schools that graduate more students than average for their area, will likely get a pass this year. And schools that seem to be on an upward trajectory (i.e., in the 75th percentile or above on value-added test scores) also probably won’t be closed this year.

Other schools, such as turnarounds, are set for a reprieve under the draft guidelines.

Catalyst Chicago compiled this database of schools at performance Level 3 that are either eligible or exempt from closure under the criteria. Three areas, Grand Boulevard/Bronzeville on the South Side and Austin on the West Side, had more than 10 schools eligibile for closing.

Sicat told a group of parents gathered in Grand Boulevard last night that CPS officials won't close a school unless there's better option to which they can transfer students.  "If we can immediately give students access to a higher performing school, then we will do it," he said. 

What quantifies a better performing option has not been defined yet, though Sicat said schools in performance level 2, a step up from the lowest level, would be considered an improvement for students.

Principals, parents bracing for bad news

The district’s new school progress reports, handed out to parents during report card pick-up, specify a school’s performance level. But nowhere on the progress reports is there any mention of how important that number is in determining school closings.

Yet principals and their parents are well aware that they could be targeted. One, who asked not to be identified, said he was bracing for bad news.  While building utilization is not supposed to be a factor, he noted that a combination of low academic performance and severe under-utilization makes his school a top contender.

Bass Elementary Principal Granzlee Banks Jr.  says that a letter went out last week to parents whose schools did not meet AYP—Adequate Yearly Progress, under federal performance criteria—informing them that they have the right to transfer their children elsewhere. While AYP has nothing to do with school closings, he says several confused parents have approached him for clarification.

Banks stresses that no one in central office has told him anything definitive about Bass, in the Englewood-Gresham area, being closed. However, he realizes that the school’s low performance makes it vulnerable.

“I tell them that as a parent, [they] have choices and decisions about what you want for your child, but as a principal I am advocating for my school,” Banks says. He notes that it has been hard to make improvements given the school’s high mobility rate—in 2011, Bass had 45 percent mobility, more than twice the district average—and the fact that many students come from a challenging environment.

Getting the word out

Dwayne Truss, a community activist in Austin, says that he is doing everything he can to get the word out to schools about the draft guidelines and which campuses might be targeted. He also has spent time talking to local principals about how they can make the case for themselves that they can be spared.

Truss is the vice chairman of the Community Action Council in Austin, a group that spent the last year talking about what needs to happen to make schools better. The groups made presentations to CPS leaders earlier this fall, but have yet to hear word back from any officials about the status of their plans.

While some schools are gearing up for a fight, some are resigned to their fate. Lathrop has been being phased out for the past three years and now, according to some language in the draft guidelines, could face the death knell this year.

Melody Palmer, who went from a parent volunteer to a clerk at the school, says she will be sad if Lathrop closes its doors. The loss of subsidized housing in the area, coupled with the pressures of charter schools, siphoned away students. Of the 86 students left at the school, some 30 are homeless, she says.

  But she says parents won’t get really upset until the final decision is made. “Then it will be too late,” she notes.

AttachmentSize
School_Closing_Guidelines_List.xls60.5 KB

15 comments

Charter? wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Will they close charters?

Will they close charters?

Say What? wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Closures of high schools...

All 4 Far South Side High Schools (Julian, Fenger, Harlan, Corliss) are on this list. Where are students from these schools supposed to go if any of these schools close? WTF?

Renee V. Green wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

The Catalyst article

School closing list.

Renee V. Green wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

School Closing list

The Catalysts article

Anonymous wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Julian

Students at Julian: Would these students move over to Morgan Park High School?

Curious wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Can you explain why you only

Can you explain why you only excluded schools that scored above the 75th percentile on value-added?

You say: And schools that seem to be on an upward trajectory (i.e., in the 75th percentile or above on value-added test scores) also probably won’t be closed this year.)

But CPS guidelines clearly state that schools will be excluded from consideration if: "scored at or above the 25th percentile on the trend and growth component"

Excluding schools above the 25th percentile will result in a much shorter list than the 140 some odd that you ended up with.

You also only used value-added (growth), and did not use the percentile ranking of the "trend" scores.

As this list gets sourced more, and as it's the only 'potential' list released by any organizations, it'd be good to know more about the choices made for the criteria. Of course CPS was not very explicit (they don't even say how they plan on combining growth and trend!), so that's why we are all left guessing putting these lists together. Thanks!

Sarah Karp wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Explain...

Hi. I am wondering where I would find the "growth trend component" that you are referring to. In the past when district officials have spoken of the growth trend component, they have been referring to the value-added percentile.

trend wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

In the CPS Performance

In the CPS Performance Policy, they use both a growth and a "trend" component for elem and high schools.

The Trend component is available for 6 criteria for Elementary schools and 9 criteria for high schools. The trend is "the difference between the school’s most recent score and the school’s average score over the three previous years." For the "trend score", the school is assigned a number of points based on its quartile ranking for each criteria. More details are in their Performance Policy Powerpoint, http://research.cps.k12.il.us/cps/accountweb/Accountability/policy/

Only in the most recent school action guidelines (dated oct.31)was there a mention of using the percentile on the "trend" as well as growth. The first draft/presentations only mentioned growth (value-added).

the details of the exclusion criteria are just a bluff. CPS will do what it can get away with.

sarah karp wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

interesting

That is interesting. I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that some of the level three schools, those eligible for closing, posted better percent meets and exceeds on the NWEA than some performance level two schools. Perhaps adding the trend component reduces this issue. I will look at it on Monday. Hope you had a great thanksgiving.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

this is shameful

Charter schools are exempt from these type of evaluations from the Board thus they do not have to worry about school closings.
Some of these schools are the only positive pillars within fractured communities...that may now be closed. Is this really helping or is it furthering the isolation and desolation of our poverty stricken transient communities? Obviously the people making these decisions have never lived near or within a neighborhood that had no school, no grocery store, no church, no community center, no restaurants....what are they thinking?

nwea? wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

NWEA

When they brought NWEA to our school a few year ago we were told they were "low stakes"...closing a school sounds like high states??

My school took a Common Core test from CPS...it had f 3 spelling mistakes on it?? Does the board know this?? Oh yea the board, cps, and rahm are all one in the same. So much for checks and balances? Why do we have a board again?? It;s like when Stalin had his clapping congress!!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Larry Hawkins School (a

Larry Hawkins School (a charter on 130th in Altgeld Gardens) will happily accept these students.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

Larry Hawkins School (a

Larry Hawkins School (a charter on 130th in Altgeld Gardens) will happily accept these students.

"All 4 Far South Side High Schools (Julian, Fenger, Harlan, Corliss) are on this list. Where are students from these schools supposed to go if any of these schools close? WTF?"

judy king wrote 2 years 20 weeks ago

School Action Criteria

Ms. Karp’s list of 187 schools includes schools that do not meet the district’s *two consecutive years* at Level 3 criterion (eg, Telpochcalli, Christopher, Sabin, and etc.). And it’s not evident that the district’s academic criteria do not merely reference the *most recent* two consecutive years at Level 3. CPS should also explain how its final choices incorporate the other mitigating factors - safety, school climate, school leadership, prior school actions, etc.

Are the Draft School Actions Guidelines now final?

Re: “A recent report from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that school closings in six urban districts (including Chicago) have not yielded substantial cost savings in the short term, although the long-term impact is not yet clear.”

Chicago's projected cost savings versus actual isn't even specifically mentioned in 21 page PEW study. The PEW report isn’t transparent. They did not show their work and it's not clear what was counted. Reducing the number of district employees would seem to reduce long term pension costs.

According to CPS' FY11 and FY12 Final Budgets, the combined total of Logandale and Avondale school budgets was $7,650,825 (as individual schools) and $5,974,752 (consolidated) - -a difference of $1,676,073. Avondale building maintenance costs, unspecified. The combined total for the South Shore Complex schools (Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Technology, The Arts) in FY11 and FY12, respectively, was $11,596,698 (as individual schools) and $9,463,781(consolidated) (difference: $2,132,917). But the new South Shore International FY12 budget is $2,667,701.

The Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force should ask CPS to itemize projected costs and/or savings from school actions in terms of personnel, facilities, and other costs.

Nate wrote 1 year 4 days ago

WIU???

WIU???

Add your comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
go here for more