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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

In the News: Most CPS seniors not on college path

A new report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research found that the majority of CPS high school seniors have schedules dominated by makeup courses and electives and other non-core subject areas, and students themselves describe senior year as unchallenging and easier than previous years.

The report also found that only one-quarter of African American and 29 percent of Latino graduates from the report’s sample took at least one AP class in 12th grade. In comparison, nearly half of white and 68 percent of Asian American graduates had taken at least one AP class. Similar patterns are observed for fourth-year math. (Press release)

GETTING TOUGH ON CHARTERS: CPS has decided to ramp up its get-tough stance on charter schools, and now every fall, the district will name poor performers to a “warning list.” In contracts with charters going forward, CPS will stipulate that being on the warning list would result in closure the following spring. Currently, charters only face closure at the end of their contract. Contracts are typically five years, though recently some shaky performers have been given three-year contracts. (Catalyst)

CAUGHT OFF GUARD: Chicago Public Schools caught charter schools off guard, when they announced the creation of an academic “warning” list for six of the city’s publicly funded, privately-run schools. (WBEZ)

"SHIFTING PROCESS": The  Illinois Network of Charter Schools issued a statement regarding CPS' announcement Wednesday that six charter public schools would be placed on "Academic Watch." INCS said the announcement "it is impossible for charter schools to meet a moving target of accountability, or effectively participate in a constantly shifting process. Four CPS administrations in five years have continuously moved the goal posts. We urge the Board of Education to stand by the contracts that charter operators signed and are executing to serve Chicago Public School families." (PR Newswire)

TOUGHER TESTS: When students in grades 3-8 take the Illinois Standards Achievement Test next month, it will be under new, more rigorous performance levels approved by the Illinois State Board of Education earlier this year. About 20 percent of this year’s test questions were written to the Common Core Learning Standards as the state prepares to fully implement those standards and a new assessment system in 2014-15. (Press release)

CATHOLIC CLOSINGS: The Chicago archdiocese plans to close five schools in cost-cutting move and will reduce its aid to Catholic schools by $10 million. It plans to give scholarships to children affected by the five school closings so they can attend nearby Catholic schools. Low enrollment was a key factor for closing the schools, officials said. (Tribune)

ELEVATING HIGH SCHOOL: Proponents of better aligning high school improvement, postsecondary education, and the workforce have high hopes for President Barack Obama's recent proposal to create a Race to the Top-style competitive-grant program specifically for secondary education. (Education Week)

KIPP GAINS: A new report by Mathematica Policy Research finds that students in KIPP charter schools experience significantly greater learning gains in math, reading, science, and social studies than do their peers in traditional public schools. (Education Week)

BACKING DEASY: The five leading candidates for mayor said Wednesday that they favored keeping Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on the job overseeing the nation's second-largest school system. Deasy's polices have become a major undercurrent in the contests for three seats on the L.A. Unified Board of Education. (Los Angeles Times)

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