March 21, 2014
CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced recommendations to implement a proven “turnaround” model for three low-performing elementary schools. These recommendations are part of a larger effort to provide a high-quality education for all of our students and to strengthen neighborhood schools. If approved by the Board of Education in April, these schools will be managed by the Academy for Urban School Learning (AUSL), which has proven track record of success turning around some of the District’s most challenged schools and expanding access to high quality options for more than 17,000 students. AUSL currently operates 29 schools and teacher training academies throughout CPS in neighborhoods such as Austin, Dunning, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and South Shore.
“Our goal is to ensure that our students are 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “The power of a high school diploma is great and the power of a college diploma is even greater. Our children have one chance at a high-quality education and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide our students with the tools they need to be successful. For more than a decade, AUSL has improved schools from the ground up, showing increased attendance rate and academic growth, giving students a chance to receive the rich academic experience and engaging school environment they deserve.”
The turnaround method is a proven strategy CPS utilizes to overhaul consistently under-performing neighborhood schools without moving students. The process brings highly qualified staff, including union teachers, who are specially trained to work in low-performing schools to help meet the specific needs of those schools’ children. Turnarounds have a laser focus on driving student learning and improving achievement immediately, providing additional academic support in core subjects, implementing a high-quality instruction aligned to the Common Core State Standards and setting transparent goals for schools, staff and students to reach.
Working in some of the District’s most challenging environments, AUSL has had a profound impact on academic performance and school culture:
- Thirteen of sixteen AUSL turnarounds outpaced the District average on ISAT meets or exceeds growth since undergoing the turnaround process.
- In 2013, four AUSL schools including Piccolo, Herzl, Fuller and Marquette placed in the top 10 percent of growth for the District. All of these schools were in their first year under AUSL’s management.
- On average, students enrolled in AUSL turnaround schools outpaced the District on the percentage of making or exceeding average growth in core subjects including math and science on NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments.
- More than 67 percent of students at AUSL turnaround schools met or exceeded average growth in reading, while 63 percent of District students met this benchmark. More than 74 percent of AUSL students in turnaround schools met or exceeded the average growth in math, compared to the 69 percent in District-managed schools.
- In four years under AUSL management, Phillips has moved from a chronically low-performing Level 3 school to Level 1.
CPS undergoes an exhaustive review process to determine the appropriate schools for turnaround. The District looked at almost 50 schools that had a Level 3 rating in each of the last two years and were currently on academic probation. In making its final determinations, CPS sought input from current and past Network Chiefs regarding each individual school’s principal and staff, the quality of the academic program, and the school’s culture, and its academic performance data compared to other low-performing schools within its Network and across the District.
Based on that criterion, CPS recommends the following elementary schools for turnaround beginning in School Year 2014-15:
Ronald E. McNair Elementary School, 4820 W. Walton St.
- Level 3 school; on academic probation for the past 14 years.
- McNair is over 20 percentage points below the District average in meets/exceeds.
Dvorak Technology Academy, 3615 W. 16th St.
- Level 3 school; on academic probation for the past 7 years.
- Dvorak is nearly 30 percentage points below the District average in meets/exceeds.
Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School, 8524 S. Green St.
- Level 3 school; on academic probation for the past 6 years.
- Gresham is over 20 percentage points below the District average in meets/exceeds.
In addition to overhauling the school’s leadership, teaching staff and academic climate, the turnaround process includes targeted facilities improvements such as new paint, technology upgrades and new furniture based on the needs of the school. These investments are a key component of the turnaround method, signaling a fresh start for students as they get on a path to success inside the classroom.
CPS will hold community meetings at each of the schools recommended for turnaround on April 2 and will host public hearings on April 9 and 10th at CPS’ headquarters. The Chicago Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the District’s recommendations at the April Board meeting.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students in 658 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.