The Chicago Board of Education unanimously adopted a new
measuring policy Monday intended to more clearly track school performance.
The points system, modeled after similar programs in New York, Dallas and Boston, will rate city schools at one of three levels. High performing schools would be designated Level 1 schools. Level 3 schools would be placed on probation for a minimum of two years.
Points will be awarded based on Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores, Prairie State Achievement Exam scores, ACT assessments, attendance, drop-out rates and Advanced Placement class enrollments.
"This puts more weight on growth and trend," says Ginger Reynolds, of the CPS accountability department. "The school is more compared to itself."
The system, expected to be in place by next fall, will also include a comparison of current year scores to an average of the previous three years, according to accountability director Kristen Burton.Charter schools are exempt, since those schools must meet accountability plans included as part of their contracts.
In other business Monday, the board approved the renewal of five charter schools under five-year agreements.
A sixth, Passages Charter School at 1447 W. Montrose Ave., was granted a two-year agreement and warned by CPS chief Arne Duncan that substantial changes are required if the school is to continue.
"If the culture doesn't change dramatically, I'm not comfortable going forward with this school," Duncan said.The school, which has a focus on immigrants and refugees, is operated by Asian Human Services, a Chicago-based non-profit organization that benefits low-income Asian-Americans.
Despite the problems, the school, which has about 220 students in grades
pre-k through 5, has seen a 23.4 percent rise in Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores in the last four years and posts an attendance rate of over 95 percent.
"It's a remarkable school doing remarkable things with children," said board president Rufus Williams.
Schools, a New York-based school management firm, is negotiating
with Asian Human Services to join in the operation of Passages.
Victory operates two other schools in Chicago, the Irving Park
campus and Basil campus for Chicago International Charter
The CPS has budgeted $1.5 million for Passages in 2008-09.
Paul Bowker, a Chicago-area journalist with 25 years of experience, covers Chicago Public Schools for the Daily News.