CHICAGO — Almost 200 schools improved their statuses in the Chicago Public Schools Quality Rating Policy system this year, officials announced Thursday, meaning 400 schools are now considered among the top two ratings in terms of quality.
The rating system assigns schools one of five scores, ranging from Level 3 (worst) to Level 1+ (best). The scores decide how much autonomy principals have over their own schools, and they're widely touted as a marker of each school's relative reputation.
For the 2016-17 school year, 202 schools were rated Level 1+, and 198 were rated Level 1, according to the announcement. That's an increase of 32 schools and 36 schools, respectively, in each category, from the year before.
Meanwhile, the district reported only nine Level 3 schools this year, compared to 23 such schools the year before. Level 3 schools are considered to be on probation and qualify for "intensive support."
There are 516 total district-run schools operating around the city and 125 charters.
District leaders credited the boosted rankings to steady performance gains seen in schools all around the city.
The ratings "make it clear that the District is moving in the right direction," CPS CEO Forrest Claypool was quoted as saying in the announcement, " ... and we will act on this data to implement necessary supports that further improve the quality of our schools.”
Despite dwindling enrollment and compounding budget cuts at schools across the city, Claypool and other city leaders have eagerly pointed to the district's steadily-climbing graduation rates and ACT scores.
But there's good reason to be suspicious of the rating, said Cassie Creswell, a member of the parent advocacy group Raise Your Hand.
"I think skepticism is in order here, considering how questionable a lot of these metrics are that CPS has provided," she said.
Creswell pointed to an Inspector General report released Thursday suggesting that four CPS high schools may have inflated their attendance rates over the past four years.
"If you're going to pressure schools to perform but you're not going to provide any resources that actually help them, then this is all just a farce," Creswell said.
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