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Number Of Schools With Top Quality Ratings Fall — And CPS Blames The Cubs

By Heather Cherone | October 20, 2017 3:47pm | Updated on October 24, 2017 11:24am
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DNAinfo Staff

CHICAGO — The number of Chicago Public Schools that earned one of the district's top ratings fell by 5 percent, which officials blamed in part on a drop in student attendance because of Cubs' World Series championship, among other reasons.

"The presidential election, the Day Without an Immigrant movement, labor strike uncertainty and Cubs playoffs" games caused attendance to drop at schools throughout the district, lowering their ratings, district officials said Friday.

In addition, several small-sized elementary schools saw a slower rate of growth in standardized test scores than required by district officials and not enough ninth- and 10th-grade high school students took tests to prepare for college entrance exams, another factor in the ratings, officials said.

While the number of schools with one of the three top rankings dropped, the number of schools considered by district officials to be in "good standing" grew by 5 percent, officials said as they released the 2017-18 School Quality Ratings Friday.

The system gives schools one of five ratings, in an effort to evaluate whether a school is successful in preparing students for college or careers.

The top rating is Level 1+, which is awarded to schools that “demonstrate above average performance that far exceeds expectations.” This year, 198 schools achieved that ranking, officials said.

"We're encouraged by the number of schools in good standing and will continue to find ways to implement evidence-based policies to help each student live up to their full potential," said Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said.

Level 3 is the lowest rating, and those schools could face action from district officials. Nine schools were rated Level 3 this year, the same number as last year, officials said. Those schools need "intensive support," officials said, and are considered to be on probation.

The ratings are based on a number of factors, including standardized test scores, the growth of those scores attendance rates and graduation rates, according to district documents.

"Our goal is to make sure that every public school in every neighborhood offers an excellent education, so that all Chicago students can have the opportunity to succeed in college and their careers,” said CEO Forrest Claypool. “Using data to show every school’s strengths and opportunities for improvement help all families and the community understand what we can all do together to improve.”

District-run elementary schools have a higher average school-quality rating than charter-run schools, while charter-run high schools have a higher rating average than district run-schools, officials said.

The combined average rating score for district-run schools is .01 points higher than the combined average for charter schools, officials said.

Six charter and contract schools "need to make significant improvements" in order to keep their doors open, officials said.

Those schools are:

• ACE Tech High School

• CICS Washington Park

• Kwame Nkrumah

• North Lawndale – Collins

• Plato 

• Urban Prep West

The parent-group Raise Your Hand has condemned the way the district rates schools, saying the system places too much emphasis on scores on standardized tests and fails to account for the lack of resources provided to schools by the district, which has been forced to repeatedly slash school budgets to cope with a nearly billion-dollar deficit.