WEST RIDGE — Mather High School received a Level 1 "excellent" ranking this year — seven years after Principal Chris Jones took the helm of the school while it was on probation.
Mather and several other schools, including Lake View High School, had appealed their initial rankings earlier this year.
Jones said at a Local School Council meeting Wednesday that the school had initially lost attendance points after two makeup days were added to the calendar in January after the Chicago Teachers Union strike.
Then, he said, "It changed overnight."
Mather's score had just been 0.3 percent away from a level 1 designation, so when Chicago Public Schools officials recalculated its rating without the two makeup days, Mather reached the highest designation in the district.
"[This] is huge," said council member Leslie Okamura. "There are a lot of good things going on in this school."
Jones said the school, at 5835 N. Lincoln Ave., had been on probation for years before he took over. Since then, the school has slowly improved its test scores, attendance and other metrics, such as college acceptance rates, that factor into a school's standing.
Jones warned council members that when the district begins evaluating schools on a new five-tiered system next school year that Mather would dip to a lower level.
"We start all over again," Jones said. "It's all about how to beat the numbers."
Council member Melida Zeri, a community representative, called the arbitrary nature of the rankings "ridiculous."
"It just seems it's a set up for failure," she said.
Mather High School's next Local School Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 18 at the school, 5835 N. Lincoln Ave.