Chicago Arriving at Lake Wobegone
- Subject: Chicago Arriving at Lake Wobegone
- From: "George N. Schmidt" <Csubstance@AOL.COM>
- Date: Mon, 16 Aug 1999 16:44:20 EDT
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
August 16, 1999
The following was published August 13 in the Chicago Tribune, and related
materials may still be available on the Tribune Website or on the Chicago
Public Schools Web site. I'm not sure since I haven't had the time to check,
but thought you'd be interested that here in Chicago our next objective is
that all of the children become "above average".
SUMMER SCHOOL STRIDES IN CHICAGO
BUT SCORES FOR MATH AND READING REMAIN SUBPAR
By Michael Martinez
Tribune Education Writer
August 13, 1999
The number of 3rd, 6th and 8th graders in the Chicago Public Schools who
failed to meet promotion standards in mandatory summer school this year
declined, according to results released Thursday. Yet school officials
said a crisis still exists in reading and math skills in the early
grades and pledged an additional $16 million for year-round schooling
next year for all 1st through 3rd graders who are not reading at grade
Standards for promotion are set as much as a year and a half below grade
level, but thousands of pupils still have been unable to meet those
requirements. School officials said even students who pass promotion
standards may be required to attend summer school to bring skills up to
Indeed, despite the improved performance on the Iowa Tests of Basic
Skills given earlier this month to some 23,000 students, schools chief
Paul Vallas said he intends to expand the year-round schooling to 6th
and possibly 8th grades next year if he can obtain the funding. Under
the plan, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 8th graders whose math and reading
scores are not at grade level would attend summer school; $6 million
would be needed to include each additional grade, Vallas said.
Even if he cannot raise funding for year-round 6th and 8th grade, Vallas
will mandate that 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 8th graders who are not at
grade level--a total of about 100,000 students--attend after-school
academic programs, costing an additional $3.5 million beyond the current
$30 million in after-school academic and social offerings.
"Even though the number of retained kids is declining and is declining
every year, we're still going to continue to expand our educational
support programs because we want all of our kids to be above grade
level," Vallas said. "The mayor is a big supporter of the year-round
Even 8th graders who earned their diplomas would be required to attend
summer school if their math and reading scores are not at grade level,
and the experience would be akin to "a high school prep program," Vallas
Currently, 3rd, 6th and 8th graders are required to attend summer school
if their reading and math scores on the Iowa Tests fail to meet the
board's promotion standards--which allows students to be a year or a 1
1/2 years behind grade level. If students fail to meet those promotion
standards after summer school, they are retained. The board also imposes
more complex promotion standards for 10th graders, but failure figures
were not available this week, officials said.
Vallas also announced that he will raise promotion standards next year
for 6th graders to a 5.8 grade level from the current 5.3 and for 8th
graders to a 7.7 grade level from the current 7.4. Also, he will have an
8.0 promotion standards for 8th graders in summer 2001, he said.
Melissa Roderick, an independent researcher with the Consortium on
Chicago School Research, which is completing a study on Chicago's summer
school and another on its ban on social promotions, said this year's
results seemed impressive, though other cities trying to copy Chicago's
$33 million "summer bridge" may find it expensive.
"Third grade is clearly the biggest problem in the promotion initiative,
so any improvement there looks pretty good," Roderick said. "There's a
lot of money spent on this summer school. I'm not sure it's a Cadillac
yet, but it's certainly a Toyota Camry. I haven't seen anyone do any
cost-benefit analysis. What I'm worried about is that other people see
this program and say great, but they run a Pinto version of it."
As Chicago's nationally watched ban on social promotions completed its
fourth year, the number of students facing the extraordinary sanction of
being flunked for a third time was a small percentage of the system's
436,000 enrollment: 120 3rd graders and 45 6th graders failed the same
grade for the third consecutive time, summer school results showed.
Figures for 8th graders who failed for a third time were not available;
those older students have already been removed from elementary schools
and placed in a separate school called a transition center or academic
prep center, officials said.
Those 3rd and 6th graders facing triple retention will be promoted under
an earlier announced revision to the board's ban on social promotion.
But most, if not all, will be placed in special education classes.
The number of 3rd graders who flunked twice dropped this year to 672
from 1,226 last year, as it did for 6th graders, to 449 from 575.
Explaining the reduced retention rates, Vallas credited the so-called
Lighthouse after-school programs; mandatory summer school that began
last year for poor-performing 1st and 2nd graders; special "transition
classrooms" with more intensive instruction for double retainees that
began last year; and the implementation over the past three years of a
new set of systemwide standards.
The board's figures for summer school performance showed:
- Of the 9,571 3rd graders mandated to attend summer school, 5,121
pupils, or 54 percent, failed. On a broader scale, 13 percent of the
system's total 38,287 3rd graders failed, down from 15 percent last
- Of the 7,307 6th graders in summer school, 3,027, or 41 percent,
failed. Systemwide, 10 percent of the total 30,242 6th graders will be
retained, the same as last year.
- Of the 6,536 8th graders in summer bridge classes, 2,223 youths, or 34
percent, didn't make the grade and will be retained. In all, 8 percent
of the system's 25,915 8th graders will be flunked, down from last
year's 10 percent.
However, 8th-grade enrollment is at its lowest level in the past three
years, 25,915, and officials tried to explain the drop as a demographic
glitch--a birth rate drop for that group.
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