Friday, April 29, 2011

Urban Prep gets its charter renewed despite failing test scores

Urban prep get lots of money from Oprah.

Urban Prep is the most over-hyped charter school in Chicago. It's not that Tim King's all-boys charter school isn't doing some good things or having some successes. It is. But, like KIPP and all the other darlings of the corporate reformers, Urban Prep is constantly being compared and held up as the, "no excuses," magic-bullet alternative to neglected and ravaged neighborhood schools. But so much of the media hype is ideologically driven, there's very little that educators or parents can take away from it to help understand what it takes to create successful schools in poverty stricken neighborhoods like Englewood.

Now the lameduck Chicago school board has renewed Urban Prep's charter and this Sun-Times story by Ros Rossi, reveals a glaring contradiction. If as we are told, the school is sending 100% of its kids to college, how successful will they be given that their reading and math scores are among the lowest in the city?
Board members approved the renewal of Urban Prep-Englewood’s charter even though the school failed to meet its accountability targets, due to low test scores. Only 17 percent of Urban Prep juniors passed their state exams last year, far lower than the district average of 29 percent. On the positive side, that beats the 8.4 percent passing rate in the neighborhood schools that Urban Prep kids would normally attend.
Nothing to write home about, especially considering the ton of extra money the school gets from celebrities like Oprah.

Board members also renewed the charter of Chicago Virtual Charter School, which flunked its accountability plan. It won low marks on 57 of 74 indicators, failing particularly in areas involving attendance, transfers-out and dropouts.  All this shows that we can expect an continuation from the mayor and his hand-picked board to double-standard education in Chicago.