Monday, July 16, 2012

Despite total focus on testing, CPS scores stay flat

Despite Rahm/Brizard making a total fetish of testing while diverting thousands of hours of classroom time and millions of badly-needed dollars towards test-prep, scores remain flat in CPS elementary schools. In fact during the first year of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s watch scores rose by the smallest margin — only 0.9 of a percentage point (statistically insignificant) — since 2005. Charter schools — whose $76 million planned expansion drew boos and hisses at recent budget hearings — posted increases that were only fractionally better than the district average.

Only 17.8 percent of CPS elementary schools “exceeded” state standards. Both the “meeting” and “exceeding’’ gains were the smallest since 2005. This year's gap between African-American and white students remained at nearly 22 percentage points, and between white and Hispanic students about 15 percentage points.

This didn't stop Rahm's overstaffed, giddy-with-success CPS spin squad from talking about "record high scores" and attributing even this statistically insignificant bump to the top-down-imposed longer school day. Nobody was buying that B.S. CPS Chief of Instruction Jennifer Cheatham (pronounced cheat-um) said she was “excited” about the “promising” longer day results but even she had to admit that, “it’s hard to attribute the [longer] school day in isolation to test score gains.’’

By the way, what is a chief of instruction anyway, and how is that different from the system's currently missing chief education office. Inquiring minds want to know.

The Sun-Times reports
Three of the five longer-day "Pioneer Schools" actually posted worse gains than the system. Two went down; one (Skinner North) showed no change in its 100 percent passing rate but dropped 10.5 percentage points in its "exceeding state standards" rate. Two went up -- including Fiske Elementary, where the passing rate jumped a massive 11.8 percentage points. Of the 12 schools that started a longer day by January, half had better gains than the system and half had worse. 
Some 220 elementary schools that did not receive up to $150,000 per school and teacher stipends to institute a longer day also beat the systemwide average gain, according to the S-T analysis.

Consultant Barbara Radner of DePaul University’s Center for Urban Education calls the CPS analysis “distorted,’’as it drew averages from only a handful of schools with widely mixed results.
“This is inaccurate, misleading and dangerous. Clearly the minutes were not the magic….. Other schools without the 90 minutes did better. So the question is, what should schools do with the minutes they do have? The question is what is the best way to teach kids, not how many minutes do you have. The emperor has no clothes. I would call this a failed experiment.’’

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike,
    I have a school for you that posted almost 8% gains in its ISAT scores. It went from 61.5% in 2011 to 69% in 2012. It had increases in all 3 subjects tested ( reading, math and science). And it did this with no extra funding or staff from CPS, in a low-income neighborhood of Humboldt Park , with a demoralized staff that was beaten up all year by CPS. It did this with no recess or longer day. I only wish CPS could go to Pablo Casals and ask them how they did it, but sadly, almost no one is left there who can answer that. Almost all of the staff is reassigned and looking for jobs this summer.

    Still, now that AUSL has taken over , I'm sure they will repeat this great gain next year. I'm sure the fact that only 1 AUSL school had higher gains than Casals this year is just a fluke and next year will be different.


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