LOGAN SQUARE — In a bit of vindication for parents and staff who fought hard for Brentano Elementary's survival, the school that last year found itself on the school closure list has now been upgraded to an "excellent" CPS rating.
"It's amazing," Brentano Principal Martha Elisa Rosa-Salgado said. "It's like, you gotta pinch me, I don't know if this is for real."
The CPS performance policy ranks schools based on a number of criteria, including standardized test scores, attendance and individual growth.
Schools earn points in each of these categories, for a maximum score of 42.
Thirty points or more gives an elementary school a Level 1 or "excellent" standing, 21 to 29 points makes it a Level 2, or "good" standing school, and 20 points or below puts it on a probationary status.
Brentano received 35, or 83.3 percent, Rosa-Salgado said.
Last year, Brentano Elementary had been on Level 3 probation, but parents and staff fighting to get it off the closure list said then that the numbers didn't tell the whole story, and that Brentano was on the rise.
"You know what, I was so excited to hear, but I was not surprised," said Brentano parent and Local School Council chairwoman Rose Becerra, adding that one-on-one intervention and tutoring had helped bring up performance, particularly among Spanish-speaking students.
"That's what's really turned our school around in the last couple years, and that's 100 percent because of the principal and our staff," she said. "Brentano's going to do nothing but thrive and get stronger."
Like Becerra, Salgado gave much of the credit to teachers going the extra mile and intervening when students needed it the most.
"I truly believe that the greatest factor in student achievement is the teacher that you put in front of the child," she said. "The teachers that we have here are outstanding teachers that care and go beyond the call of duty and work very hard. They know it's not an 8:45-to-3:45 job."
While Salgado said she's pleased with the "excellent" rating, she said now the pressure is to keep it there.
"It's a little unnerving because sometimes it's like a yo-yo — up and down, up and down," she said. "We need to make sure that we assess our practices and continue those practices that helped us reach this level."