5,800 Students to Get Access to Quality School Options with Proposed “Turnarounds” 

Record number 10 Turnaround schools proposed for next school year, including six with Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), whose ISAT student performance growth more than doubled district-average last school year


November 29, 2011


Chicago Public Schools officials today proposed to turnaround 10 underperforming schools to provide 5,800 students with access to higher quality school options starting next school year. These are the first in a series of school actions the district is proposing to ensure that students in some of the city’s worst-performing schools receive the resources and instruction they need to graduate college and career ready and turn the tide on growing achievement gaps and drop out rates.


“Our students are falling farther and farther behind every year. We can no longer accept or defend schools that have failed our students year after year, which is why we are making tough choices today to ensure they can succeed tomorrow,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.“Every student deserves a high quality education that prepares them for life, that graduates them ready for college and that puts them on a path toward career success. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to give our students those opportunities and the turnaround schools have a track record of success in boosting student achievement.”


Turnarounds change under-performing CPS schools by completely overhauling them without moving students to another school. Turnarounds build successful students because of two critical investments: a top-to-bottom school transformation and teacher training that prepares them to tackle to challenges of growing student achievement within low-performing schools. Students return in the fall to a school that is re-built around an entirely new culture of success. The results from five years of turnarounds are compelling, and support that a fresh start, with a new staff and culture of high expectations will lead to dramatically improved student outcomes.


The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) will turnaround six CPS schools, which represents the largest number of turnarounds it has taken on in a single year. AUSL has a strong overall track record of increasing student academic achievement within its 12 turnaround schools. In 2011, student growth in ISAT composite scores at AUSL elementary schools (8%) was more than double the district in average growth (3.8%). Among the AUSL successes is Morton School of Excellence, which achieved a 33 percentage point increase in students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT since becoming a turnaround in 2008. In addition, Howe Elementary saw a 25.5 percentage point increase between 2010 and 2011, and 74.6 percent of students now meet or exceed state standards on the ISAT.


The key to AUSL success is its teacher training academies, which provide a full year of preparation for many of the teachers who provide the foundation for each turnaround. Last summer, Mayor Emanuel announced that CPS would double its investment in AUSL-trained teachers by increasing the number of AUSL teacher training academies from 7 to 14 over the next two years. This investment will add 200 teachers to help turnaround additional schools that are among the lowest-performing in the district.


The remaining four schools will be under the direction of the CPS Office of School Improvement (OSI), which will make significant investments in teacher training, professional development and student academic supports to ensure students receive the time and resources they need to succeed. OSI elementary school turnarounds also showed academic growth at nearly twice the district average for composite ISAT scores, jumping 6.3 percentage points compared to the district’s gains of 3.8 percentage points.


Across the district, CPS students are facing significant challenges. More than 123,000 students attend underperforming schools, which represents nearly one-third of all seats in CPS. In 2011 only 7.9 percent of all 11th graders tested college ready, and more than half of all schools are on academic probation.


“As adults, we all have a responsibility to put the academic needs of our students first before all else. We can no longer accept a status quo that allows our students to go unprepared for college and career for years on end. This is not just what we believe to be true among the new leadership team at CPS, but this is what I have heard from the community time and time again.” said Brizard.


Over the last six months, Brizard has met dozens of key stakeholders, including parents, community groups, teachers, principals, students, elected officials and faith leaders. Throughout these dialogues, stakeholders have been consistent in their message that CPS is not meeting the needs of all its students. These conversations have helped drive CPS’ determination to move quickly to improve school quality throughout the district this year, especially among its lowest performing schools.


The turnaround strategy at CPS began in 2006 with the conversion of Sherman Elementary School by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). In all, 12 CPS schools are currently being turned around by AUSL and 5 schools are in turnarounds led by the CPS Office of School Improvement. 


AUSL would be designated to implement the turnaround strategy at six of the proposed schools serving nearly 3,200 students:


  • Pablo Casals Elementary School, 3501 W. Potomac Avenue, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, 4214 S. Saint Lawrence Avenue, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Theodore Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S Richmond St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, 1040 N Keeler Ave., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary School, 7424 S Morgan St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.


CPS Office of School Improvement would implement the turnaround strategy at four other schools serving 2,650 students including:


  • Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) High School, 2100 E 87th St., which has been on academic probation for10 consecutive years.
  • Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School, 4747 S Union Ave., which has been on academic probation for 8 consecutive years.
  • Wendell Smith Elementary School, 744 E 103rd St., which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.
  • Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4414 S Evans, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.


CPS will provide $6 million in funding for one-time transition costs at all ten OSI and AUSL turnaround schools. These 10 schools will also receive $14 million for per pupil funding that can be used to invest in coaching, tutoring, after-school programs and additional resources to drive student achievement, fund summertime professional development for new staff and resources to plan the new culture and curriculum of the school and the hiring of an additional assistant principal for one year.


In addition to bringing in new leadership and teaching staff, CPS will make significant investments in turnaround schools to help create an effective learning environment focused on the academic success of all students. Supports provided through the turnaround models include:


  • Intervention and tutoring services for students who need extra support in reading and math.
  • Academic after school programs to give students access to additional instruction time and further accelerate student achievement.
  • High-quality instruction including Common Core State Standards to ensure rigorous instructional program that gives students knowledge and skills needed to be ready for college and career.
  • Teacher collaboration across subjects to maximize student learning and ensure students are not falling behind in any area
  • Extensive extracurricular enhancements including fine arts and athletics to facilitate more well-rounded learning
  • In-house training for aspiring teachers that gives teachers strategies and tools needed to address diverse needs of students in transitioning schools
  • Systems to increase student attendance, decrease serious misconducts and increase student satisfaction
  • Advanced data systems and testing aligned with rigorous academic standards to help staff identify struggling students early and give them the help they need to get back on track.
  • Relentless efforts to recruit, retain, and motivate high-quality staff
  • Provide evidence-based social-emotional programming
  • Full time social worker to provide one on one counseling


There will also be significant opportunity for the parents and the public to provide feedback on every proposed turnaround, including a formal public hearing. CPS will evaluate the testimony presented and carefully consider the issues raised during these meetings prior to presenting final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education for a vote. In addition, parents and stakeholders can provide feedback through the CPS website, emails and by attending Board of Education meetings in December, January and February.


Detailed letters will be delivered to every member of the school staff and every parent/guardian including all specifics about the proposal, the public hearing, and the new educational options available to students. CPS staff will be available to answer parent questions at the school as well as through the CPS Quality Schools Hotline at 773-553-5020.


More information on the School Actions process can be found at the cps website by visiting www.cps.edu/qualityschools.


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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