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Englewood Schools Struggling To Attract Students, Hit Academic Goals: Data

 Megan Hougard, who oversees 42 schools in the Englewood neighborhood, met with parents in the community Wednesday.
Megan Hougard, who oversees 42 schools in the Englewood neighborhood, met with parents in the community Wednesday.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

ENGLEWOOD — Englewood is losing its high school students to schools outside the neighborhood, according to data collected by a local CPS official.

The information was presented to parents Wednesday night by Megan Hougard, who oversees 42 schools in the area, at the “State of Englewood Schools” presentation at Chicago Embassy Church, 5848 S. Princeton Ave.

Perry Gunn, executive director of Teamwork Englewood, said the organization hosted the session after the Quality of Life Education Task Force requested a meeting to have the data broken down.

There has been a 28 percent decline in high school-age residents living in the Englewood schools' boundaries between 2008 and 2015, data provided at the meeting showed.

And of those students remaining in the community, many are choosing to go to schools outside the neighborhood, the data shows.

Back in 2008, for example, Robeson High School enrolled 74 percent of high school-age students who lived in its residential boundaries. But by 2015, only 13 percent of those students who could go to Robeson actually did, the data showed. Of the 2,602 high school-age students living in the Robeson boundary, only 203 actually go to the school, the data shows.

Harper High School dropped from drawing 52 percent of the students in its residential area in 2008 to 20 percent in 2015. Hope High School, meanwhile, drew 79 percent of students from its residential area in 2008, but only 26 percent in 2015.

Part of the reason for lower enrollment is that students are attending schools outside Englewood, Hougard said.

The 33 local elementary schools also have struggled to draw students from the neighborhood, Hougard said, and overall the neighborhood has seen the number of kids in preschool through eighth grade drop 31 percent from 2008-2015.

Of those elementary schools, three had the lowest academic ranking on Chicago Public Schools' five-point system: Barton, Oglesby and Jackson. Thirteen others had the second-lowest ranking on the five-point scale, including Henderson, Wentworth, Earle and Nicholson. 

Some schools, though, attained the highest CPS ranking, including Green, Wacker and Sherwood.

More schools are not earning a higher ranking, Hougard said, because students aren’t meeting their targets for academic growth. She said often parents think their children are advancing when they're really still behind the targets for growth, which follows them into the next grade.

“It’s very important to be continuously growing,” she said.

Tara Williams is an Englewood resident with two boys, one in fourth grade and and the other in sixth, though she wouldn't say where they go to school. She said that one of the ways to improve the schools is to have more parent involvement. Williams said she is on the local school council at her children's school.

A Nicholson parent of four, who declined to give her name, said some of the schools focus more on discipline than academics.

“We’ve built a culture mostly of discipline. It’s too much discipline. I walk in the afternoon, and there are kids lined up against the wall. They’re being punished," she said.

Hougard told parents that their input is important.

“We don’t need more programs added to our schools, we need more parent voices. They should be part of conversation,” she said.

The next education task force meeting will be Saturday at Team Englewood Community Academy, 6201 S. Stewart Ave.

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