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CPS Recommends Closing One Poor Performing Charter School and Authorizing One High Quality Charter Proposal

30 November 2017

ACE Tech Would Close Due to Poor Performance;
Art In Motion Would Open to Provide High Quality Arts-Focused Instruction in Greater Grand Crossing

CPS Office of Communications

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

CHICAGO - Chicago Public Schools today announced its intention to recommend the closure of ACE Technical Charter School, which has failed to address an extended period of poor academic performance, and recommend the approval of the Art In Motion Charter School proposal, which would meet significant demand for additional access to arts-focused options on the South Side. The recommendations announced today follow an extensive period of school and proposal review to help ensure that poor performing schools without a reliable plan to improve are closed and high quality proposals that meet a need for quality seats and have community support are options for Chicago families.

“To ensure students receive the high quality education they deserve, CPS is recommending closure of a poor performing charter, as well as opening a high quality school to meet demand for a performing arts education in the Greater Grand Crossing area,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. “Our priority is ensuring that schools deliver a high quality education and meet a need in the community, and we are confident these decisions are in the best interest of our students.”

New School Proposal Recommendations
Earlier this year, CPS initiated an extensive process to evaluate applications for charter and contract schools to fulfill the state-mandated requirement to review 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.

Nine applicants submitted initial school proposals, and seven of those applicants withdrew their proposals during the district’s intensive submission and review process. Only two applicants, the proposed Art in Motion Charter School and the proposed Chicago Classical Academy, completed the full application process and will be considered by the Board of Education at the December 6 Board Meeting. CPS staff has thoroughly reviewed the application materials, which can be found here, and will recommend the Board approve the application for Art in Motion and deny the application for Chicago Classical Academy.

Art In Motion

The Art in Motion Charter School application requests a 1,200-student school serving grades 7-12 in Greater Grand Crossing. CPS is recommending the Board approve the school to open in the 2018-19 school year with initial 7th and 8th grade classes. If approved by the Board, the school would be authorized to serve a maximum of 900 students once the school reaches its full grade capacity (7-12) in the 2022-23 school year.

CPS is recommending the approval of Art in Motion because the school will meet a need for additional quality seats in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood by providing families with a performing arts school that leverages personalized learning curriculum and rigorous instruction. The school has a formal partnership with Distinctive Schools, a Chicago education management organization that currently oversees three Level 1 CPS schools and one Level 2+ CPS school, to provide comprehensive personalized and project-based learning curriculum. Through the application process, Art in Motion has demonstrated a strong educational model, realistic financial plan, viable facility options, and partnerships with the Lynn Group, New Life Church and Whole Foods.

If approved by the Board in a separate action, the school would be housed in available space at the Hirsch High School facility. If located at Hirsch, Art In Motion has agreed to partner with Hirsch High School to provide students access to new resources and programming, including before- and after-school performing arts programming.

Chicago Classical Academy

Following a thorough application review, CPS is recommending the Board of Education deny the application for a proposed Chicago Classical Academy, which would serve 504 students in grades K-8 in the South Loop.

CPS does not believe the charter school proposal meets the academic, financial and operational standards outlined in Illinois charter schools law and the district’s New Schools Request For Proposal (RFP), and therefore CPS is not recommending this proposal for approval.

Charter Revocation Recommendation

In 2015, the Board of Education approved a charter accountability policy to identify charter schools to be considered for closure based on their performance. ACE Tech, a Level 2 high school, was deemed eligible for closure under the charter accountability policy, and following a thorough review of the school’s performance, CPS is recommending the Board of Education revoke the charter for ACE Tech and close the school at the end of the current school year.

CPS is making this recommendation for the following reasons:
The school failed to implement a remediation plan after being on the Academic Warning List last year;

  • The school was on the Academic Warning List for two consecutive years;
  • Nearby quality options are available for current ACE Tech students;
  • During the district’s site visit to the school earlier this year, the school did not demonstrate a capacity to deliver a high quality education; and
  • The school has not provided a concrete action plan to address the identified deficiencies going forward.
  • If approved by the Board, CPS will work with families of current ACE Tech students to develop a transition plan that provides every student with access to a better school option.

“Even though this action will benefit students and families who are able to transition to higher performing schools, we understand this process can be challenging and confusing for families,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “To help ensure families understand their options and the reason behind this recommendation, we will be engaging all ACE Tech families to help ensure this process is as smooth as possible and leads to stronger academic opportunities and outcomes for their children.”

Charter and Contract Renewal Recommendations

Each year, CPS reviews the performance of all charter, contract and options programs that are in their final year of their agreement with CPS to determine if the schools have met the district’s standards to remain in operation. After reviewing the performance of all schools in the final year of their agreement, CPS is recommending the following renewal agreements so that programs can continue to serve students in the coming school year:

  • Acero Charter Schools (15 campuses) – five-year renewal
  • Asian Human Services – Passages Charter School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • ASPIRA Charter Schools (3 campuses) – seven-year renewal
  • Camelot Excel Academy of Englewood Options Contract School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Camelot SAFE South Shore Options Contract Program (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Chicago Collegiate Charter School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Chicago Technical Academy Contract School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Christopher House Charter School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • EPIC Academy Charter School (1 campus) – seven-year renewal
  • Frazier Preparatory Academy Charter School (1 campus) – three-year renewal
  • Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Intrinsic Charter School (1 campus) – five-year renewal
  • Little Black Pearl Art and Design Academy Options Contract School (1 campus) – three-year renewal
  • North Lawndale Charter School (2 campuses) – two-year renewal
  • Plato Learning Academy Contract School (1 campus) – two-year renewal
  • University of Chicago Charter Schools (4 campuses) – five-year renewal
  • Urban Prep Academy for Young Men – Englewood (1 campus) – three-year renewal
  • Urban Prep Academy for Young Men – West (1 campus) – two-year renewal
  • Young Women Leadership Academy Charter School (1 campus) – five-year renewal

Three of the schools recommended for renewal were eligible for closure based on the district’s accountability policy, which outlines schools that could be recommended for closure, depending on a thorough evaluation of their performance. CPS conducted reviews for all four schools eligible for closure this year and is recommending the closure of ACE Tech. The recommendation to renew the three other schools is based on an assessment that the schools have a plan to improve performance and that closing these schools would not necessarily result in students finding an accessible school next year that would provide them with stronger outcomes. All three of these schools are being recommended for two-year renewals with the condition that they improve their academic performance.

Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.

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