Chicago Public Schools announced today that following extensive annual reviews of charter school performance and new school applications, the district will recommend the closure of two poor performing charter schools — Kwame Nkrumah and Urban Prep West — and the denial of all three proposals submitted to the district for new charter schools.
“High quality charter schools can serve as important options for families, but we have been clear that in order to operate in our district schools must provide students with a high quality education and applicants must meet a clear need in the community and prove their ability to serve students well,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “The recommendations made today follow comprehensive reviews of school performance, applicant quality and need, and we believe it is in the best interest of our students to deny all new school applications this year and close the two poor performing charters who have failed to provide students the quality education they deserve.”
Recommended Closure of Two Poor-Performing Charter Schools
In 2015, the Board of Education approved a Charter School Quality Policy to identify charter schools to be considered for closure based on their performance to ensure charter schools are providing students with a high quality education. Following comprehensive performance reviews conducted in accordance with the Charter School Quality Policy, CPS is recommending the Board of Education close Urban Prep West and Kwame Nkrumah via charter revocation and non-renewal, respectively.
- Kwame Nkrumah Charter School: CPS is recommending the non-renewal of Kwame Nkrumah, a Level 3 school for the past two years, due to its failure to be removed from the academic warning list, failure to successfully implement a mandatory remediation plan, and financial and operational concerns. Additionally, the district’s site visits suggest that the school lacks the capacity to provide students a high quality education, and higher quality school options exist for students in the community.
- Urban Prep West Charter School: Urban Prep West’s charter is being recommended for revocation due to the school’s failure to meet its contractual condition to successfully implement a remediation plan and improve enough to be removed from the academic warning list. Additionally, CPS has identified financial concerns with the school, and during a recent site visit the school did not demonstrate a capacity to deliver a high quality education to students. The district is recommending the school for revocation because the school has failed to provide students the high quality education they deserve and higher quality school options exist for schools in the community.
If approved by the Board, CPS will work with families of current Urban Prep West and Kwame Nkrumah students to develop transition plans that provides every student with access to a better school option next year.
In addition to Kwame Nkrumah and Urban Prep West, CPS also considered the potential closure of Plato Learning Academy Contract School following Plato's placement this year on the District's Academic Warning List. While the district needs to see significant academic improvement at Plato this year, CPS is allowing the school to complete the final year of its contract and undergo further review next fall. This school year, Plato merged the two campuses it previously operated into a single campus with centralized operations, and the district believes it is appropriate to provide the school an opportunity to demonstrate significant progress under its new structure before it is considered for potential closure.
Recommended Denial of Proposals for Three New Charter Schools
Earlier this year, CPS initiated an extensive process to evaluate applications for charter and contract schools in accordance with the state-mandated requirement to review new charter and contract school applications every year. As part of this process, applicants were required to submit detailed plans for their curriculum, operations and financial stability, and demonstrate community support and a need for quality seats in the community they seek to serve.
Eight applicants submitted initial school proposals to open seven charter schools and one contract school, and five of those applicants withdrew their proposals during the district’s intensive submission and review process. CPS has carried out thorough reviews of the remaining applicants and will recommend that the Board of Education deny all applications for the following reasons:
- Intrinsic 2 Charter School: Intrinsic has proposed opening a citywide high school downtown that would open next school year. While Intrinsic meets the Charter School Quality Policy criteria for replication, the operator has not been able to identify a location that meets needs identified in the district’s Annual Regional Analysis. CPS does not support opening additional schools that do not meet a clearly identified need for families. Based on the proposal’s inability to meet an existing community need for additional quality seats, CPS is recommending denial of the proposal.
- Kemet Leadership Academy Charter School: Kemet has proposed creating a charter school in the greater Englewood community that would serve at-risk boys in grades 5-8. CPS has conducted a thorough review of the proposal and will recommend denial of the application because the proposed curriculum is incomplete and unproven, the applicant has not developed a clear instructional approach, there is a lack of demonstrated leadership capacity, and the school’s proposed budget and facility are not viable.
- Moving Everest 2 Charter School: Moving Everest has proposed creating a traditional K-8 school in the Austin community beginning in 2019. Because Moving Everest, an existing charter operator, does not meet the district’s criteria for replication, and because the school’s site visit results were insufficient and the applicant did not demonstrate the capacity or program to serve English Language Learners, CPS is recommending denial of this proposal.
For additional information on all of the proposals submitted to the district through the 2018 New Schools RFP, please visit www.cps.edu/2018rfp
Chicago Public Schools serves 361,000 students in 644 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.
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