The Chicago Teachers Union blasts plans to turn around three underperforming schools. But Chicago Public Schools says it has turned around under the nonprofit management firm Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which consistently outperforms comparable neighborhood schools.
All three schools -- Dvorak Technology Academy, Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, and Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School – have been on academic probation for years and received a Level 3 school rating based on the district's Performance Policy.
The Performance Policy is the district’s school accountability policy, which is used to determine each school’s accountability status. A school’s status for the current academic year is determined by information from the previous academic year, as well as historical performance data. For example, the 2013-2014 accountability status of a school is based on 2012-2013 and historical performance data.
The Performance Policy is based on a point system, and schools earn points for performance and progress on a variety of student outcome measures, including performance and trends on standardized tests, individual student growth from year-to-year on standardized tests, and attendance rate. Schools receive one of three ranks – Level 1 (Excellent Standing), Level 2 (Good Standing), and Level 3 (Probation) – based on the percentage of points earned. Elementary schools that are awarded a Level 3 receive less than 50 percent of available points (0-20 points out of a possible 42 points).
If a school does not meet district standards, it may be placed on probation. If a school fails to make adequate progress after being placed on probation, additional measures can be enacted, including the removal of a principal, turnaround, or closing of the school.
In terms of student growth, which measures how much students learn in a year, Dvorak had the lowest ranking of all three schools with a Far Below Average rank. Dvorak students ranked in the 2nd percentile on the reading section of the NWEA MAP test and in 1st percentile on the math section of the NWEA MAP test.
Gresham received a Below Average rank for student growth. Gresham students ranked in the 0th percentile on the reading section of the NWEA MAP test and ranked in the 18th percentile on the math section of the NWEA MAP test.
McNair received an Average rank for student growth. McNair students ranked in the 4th percentile on the reading section of the NWEA MAP test and ranked in the 76th percentile on the math section of the NWEA MAP test.
Most students are low income at all of the three schools. Statistics from the 2012-2013 school year show 98.3 percent of Dvorak’s 540 students were low income. At McNair, 96.7 percent of the 390 students enrolled were low income for the 2012-2013 year. At Gresham, 98.2 percent of the school’s 326 students were low income for the 2012-2013 year.
At Dvorak, 13.7 percent of students were Special Education students for the 2012-2013 year. The percentage of Special Education students at McNair and Gresham were 23.1 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively, for the 2012-2013 year.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Gresham Principal Dr. Diedrus U. Brown will hold a press conference at 9:00am on Tuesday to ask Chicago Public Schools to prevent the turnaround of Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School by the Academy of Urban School Leadership. The press conference will be held at Gresham Elementary School, located at 8524 S. Green Street.
*While Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School and Kwame Nkrumah Academy Elementary School share facilities or common areas, the two schools operate separately in accordance with the Board of Education’s 2005 Shared Facility Policy.
~Graphic created by Taurean Small