Patrick Boylan

About Patrick Boylan

Patrick grew up near LaFollette Park on the West Side. He contends that the very best Italian beef sandwiches are made on the West Side and has a strange love of the flat pizza from that part of the city. Patrick led The Bulldog to win seven journalism awards in 2011, including four awards to Patrick as a solo or a team member. He is very proud of The Dog's coverage of politics and schools in the neighborhood. Patrick wrote for the Times of Northwest Indiana as a stringer covering Cook County Government, for the Chicago Tribune as a stringer on the Chicago Wolves and for ChicagoNow as a writer before starting The Dog. He wrote for four years for ChiTownDailyNews.org as a media commentator and spent about 20 years in operations at city newspapers, including nine years as owner of his own distribution company. Prior to that he spent about nine years in public relations. Patrick has a Masters degree from the University of Colorado. He attended Eastern Illinois University for undergrad and Weber High School and St. Peter Canisius grammar school. The two-flat he owns was built in 1912 and has never been featured, to his knowledge, in any major motion pictures despite having a way-cool garden. Patrick purchased the property in 1994 and "couldn't afford to buy it now." His daughter is a college student in California. He lives in the house with his wife, Jane, and two cats who often sit in on his phone interviews.

CPS map: errors, errors and more errors UPDATED

An interactive map of Chicago Public Schools touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard this morning is full of errors a study by The Bulldog has found.

The map, announced with new school progress measurements parents will receive with report cards by the end of the week, “tell the story of a school’s performance by providing information about academic performance, teachers and staffing, school culture and climate and parent satisfaction,” a news release from the city said this morning.

Yet, as seen in our screen grab image, errors abound on the map, with schools mislabeled, misplaced and difficult to find.

“Through the school progress report cards, we can provide access to data on performance in a clear and understandable way,” Brizzard said in the release. The release goes on to note “the public will have access to all school progress report cards through a comprehensive online map.”

In its study of about 26 North Attendance Area elementary schools and 28 North Attendance Area high schools The Bulldog located 18 errors.

The Bulldog reached out to the Chicago Public Schools and was asked to call back in the morning. The mayor’s office did not reply to a tight deadline call for comment.

*** UPDATED Nov. 15, 2011 @ 12.25P

The Mayor’s Press Office noted that charter schools, which make up some of the issues we noted, are not included in the data base. The office said the map didn’t include charters because the charters “have a different set of standards.”

The office noted that The Bulldog was not at the press conference announcing the map. It said the charter issue was addressed at that time.

The mayor’s spokeswoman said charter information would be added next year.

The office asked The Bulldog to take the story down due to this “error.”

Below, in the list of schools found in our limited survey of the North Attendance Area we added a note if the school is a charter. The Bulldog also refers reader to the press releases from the city where the charter issue is not addressed and Brizzard’s description of the map as being “comprehensive.”

Return to Brizzard’s description of the “comprehensive” map.

Read the Mayor’s press release. 

Read the release from Chicago Public Schools.

Go to The Bulldog’s interactive maps that includes charter schools and information on the schools.

***

List of locations with errors:

  • Taft AC isn’t noted
  • Chicago Academy isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Aspira-Haugan isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Chicago Math & Science isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Passages isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Trumbull isn’t noted
  • Florence Nightingale is located in Budlong Woods
  • Thomas Kelly High School is located in Irving Park (Horner Park West)
  • William H Seward Communications Arts Academy ES located in Old Ravenswood
  • McPherson isn’t noted
  • Velma F Thomas Early Childhood Center in North Center
  • Evergreen Academy MS in South East Ravenswood
  • Aspira-Ramirez Computer Science isn’t noted (Charter)
  • Noble Street not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble Pritzker not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble- Rauner not noted on map (Charter)
  • Noble- Golder not noted on map (Charter)
  • CICS Northtown not noted (Charter)
A study by The Bulldog found 18 errors in the CPS map intended to help parents make education decisions.

A study by The Bulldog found 18 errors in the CPS map intended to help parents make education decisions. Nine are listed on the illustration. Credit: CPS.EDU

Suspect held in Gonzales murder; UPDATE: 2nd suspect released

Andrew Salamon, 25, of the Hanson Park neighborhood, has been charged with first degree murder and armed robbery in the October 9, 2009 murder of North Center businessman Robert Gonzales.

Salamon, a resident of the 2300 block of North Lockwood, was recruited into the murder/ robbery by a second person, according to Andy Conklin, spokesman for the Cook County States Attorney. The burglary followed a fight at O’Lanagan’s on September 11, 2009.

The second person was knocked out in that fight. He was apparently angered that Gonzales was laughing about the ko and wanted compensation from Gonzales.

The second person was not identified by police or the states’ attorney, although he is being held for questioning.

According to the states’ attorney, at 4.47A on October 9 the two surprised owner Gonzales who had left the bar and set the alarm. Conklin said Salamon punched the 69 year old Gonzales and the second person beat him with a metal pipe. According to press reports Gonzales died within 24 hours of the beating. Police spokesman Officer Robert Perez said Gonzales was beaten to death.

The two then entered the bar, using keys taken from Gonzales. That set off the burglar alarm, alerting police and causing the two to flee, according to Conklin.

Conklin said Salamon had made a video statement admitting his role in the murder.

Salamon is being held without bond. The next court date is set for November 30.

*** UPDATED Nov. 15 @ 8.45A

This morning police said they have released a 44 year old questioned in the murder of Robert Gonzales. The man was not charged, according to police spokesmen Officer Robert Perez.

Persons with information that could lead to solving this murder are urged to contact Area Three Detectives at +1.312.744.8261.

***

Waguespack fundraiser

By all appearances Ald. Scott Waguespack is running for the 32nd Ward Democratic Committee Chair.

The chair holds a political purse and also has power to vote on appointments to fill openings in certain offices, such as happened when John Fritchey resigned from the Illinois Statehouse to take office at the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

At that time a retired kindergarten teacher, Kathleen Moore, was appointed. She was the 60th vote needed to pass the 67 percent increase in state income taxes and the bill that ended the death penalty in Illinois.

Waguespack is expected to be opposed by Fritchey. Fritchey currently holds the post.

Waguespack will be holding a fund raiser at Schubas Nov. 16.

  • Fund raiser for Ald. Scott Waguespack
  • Citizens for Scott Waguespack
  • Schubas; 3159 N Southport Ave.
  • Wed., Nov. 16; 5.30-7.30P
  • For more information

No freeze here yet

It may have been kissed by Mr. Frost but not enough for a a freeze. 2400 block of W Cullom 11/11/11 7:30 am Photo credit: Jane Rickard

It was cold Friday morning. Colder than it has been in this area since March.

But it wasn’t a freeze. Not yet.

According to WeatherUnderground, the Irving Park station KILCHICA69 recorded a temperature low of 33.1° F for about 20 minutes starting at 6.30A Friday. The new KILCHICA105 station in Lincoln Square recorded an even lower reading of 32.7° F for five minutes at 6.11A.

While the West Rogers Park station KILCHICA51 hit 32° F for five minutes starting at 6.35A.

That’s on the knife edge and isn’t acceptable to define a frost. The temperature has to be BELOW freezing first. A condition that means our growing season is now at about 228 days with the next chance of a freeze being on Wednesay night.

Enjoy this unusually beautiful weather.

 

Ravenswood Community Council management under scrutiny— again

Management of the Ravenswood Community Council is under scrutiny again. An award winning series by The Bulldog in January and February noted that the charity, which runs Special Service Area 31, almost failed financially in the period 2005-7.

The series went on to criticize the SSA for failing to provide basic snow clearance following the heavy snow fall. It contrasted the failure in the SSA with successful clearance efforts in other areas that did not have SSA funding available.

SSA stands for Special Service Area. Created by the city, SSAs collect a property tax levy to fund “enhanced” services such as cleaning snow and trash from sidewalks. The RCC manages SSA 31 for the city.

As the manager of the SSA the RCC receives a management fee from the city. In addition it manages the services provided in the area, principally snow removal and street cleaning, but also promotion.

Although the SSA eventually cleared the sidewalks, it was a failure of the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department to clear the streets of snow on Ravenswood, while streets were cleared on industrial streets such as Rockwell and Bradley, that led to issues, according to the story, in ordinary commercial work and the efforts of charities such as the Night Ministry to maintain services.

The series is credited with being a key element in the election loss of Ravenswood Community Council President Tom O’Donnell in the aldermanic election.

A recent spat between a blog and the council has raised the issue again.

CSJ Report has errors

The post, found here at CenterSquareJournal, says the RCC is a tool of Schulter. “Current board members with political ties to Schulter include (Tom) O’Donnell, the former president of the 47th Ward Democratic Party, (Bill) Helm, the current president of the 47th Ward Democratic Party and Marty Casey, who was 47th Ward Streets and Sanitation Superintendent under Schulter.”

The inside scoop

The news that the RCC is a political tool of Schulter is not news. Sadly missing from the list of members with political ties to Eugene Schulter is Rosemary Schulter, listed by the RCC on its website as a director. Rosemary Schulter is married to Eugene Schulter.

The CSJ report goes on to confuse SSA revenue, describing $368,000 received as applied to “administering the Special Service Area #31 contract.”

The inside scoop

As noted by RCC Executive Director Chris Shickles in a reply, “RCC will receive about $50,000 in service provider compensation for managing the SSA which is in line with other similar sized SSAs throughout the city.”

The remainder of the funds are directed to efforts such as signage (the hanging banners you see on light poles), snow clearance, litter removal and landscaping. Much of that work is done by independent contractors.

The post says the RCC experiences high administrative costs.

 The inside scoop

As The Bulldog noted months ago, administrative costs at the RCC have historically ranged up to 143.14 percent of revenue in 2007. The Bulldog also pointed to HRAIL as a program with glaring inefficiency. During a four year period the RCC administered HRAIL program repaired ten homes each year for $241,538, excluding the administrative costs.

    • HRAIL is a program of small home repairs intended to maintain senior citizens in the community.
    • HRAIL has been superceeded by the SARFS program: Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors.

And The Bulldog noted that much of the revenue received was spent on independent contractors and employees, not community efforts.

Despite the financial meltdown the RCC avoided, it continued on with O’Donnell at its head. On the one hand, the RCC headed into a serious financial meltdown under O’Donnell’s leadership. It was also a hands-off leadership, The Bulldog found. O’Donnell was only present at one SSA meeting over a two year period.

Since that initial examination of the SSA minutes, O’Donnell has continued to be absent from each SSA meeting.

The issue is not just that RCC has high administrative costs, but whether the city should even fund these entities. For one thing, RCC is not the only political creature in city that receives money. As Tom Tresser, a former candidate for Cook County Board President, noted if there is a need for these services there is nothing to prevent neighborhood businesses from getting together to provide them.

The services provide a means of cloaking city services. Few property owners and fewer voters understand whether they are covered by an SSA and how to influence them. There must be a more efficient means of administering SSA services than through chambers of commerce.

Plus, the creation of a relationship between the chamber and the city creates a dependency relationship that stifles political dissent.

In essence, the chambers become tools of the city, they lack transparency and accountability to the public.

Finally, the post says there was testimony that the RCC was “politically motivated.” And the post says a hire has “alleged connections to organized crime.”

The inside scoop

The assassination of people based on association is broad. Sheila Pacione, a new employee of RCC, is correctly noted by the blog to be a former staffer of Shulter for example.

Dan Stefanski, another employee, is painted by the blog as a childhood friend of “convicted” former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Stefanski parlayed that childhood friendship into a position in the Blagojevich administration.

And the post says he was fired from the Illinois Department of Transportation for drunk driving. AND Stefanski has a past as a bookie, the report says.

According to a 2005 Chicago Sun-Times article cited online by other web sites but no longer available, an International Brotherhood of Teamsters team of investigators named Stefanski is a friend of reputed mobsters Robert Abbinanti and Nick “The Stick” LoCoco. Stefanski, according to the report, issued a statement offering a $20,000 reward for the address of a mob informant.

Stefanski does not deny keeping company with alleged mobsters, according to the report.

In the spirit of full transparency, The Bulldog itself has ties to RCC. The Bulldog sponsored an event with RCC in September, “The Bells of Ravenswood.”

As noted last month, Michael Fourcher, the publisher of the CenterSquareJournal, is a prolific entrepreneur. According to the CSJ post, Fourcher was a contributor to the post.

Fourcher was associated with the politically connected Haymarket Group, Podesta Associates, former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and ran a political consulting firm as recently as last year, overlapping with his creation of the CenterSquareJournal blog. Fourcher’s political interest in ward politics remains unknown.

It is a “politically motivated” piece according to a reply to the article by Democratic ward boss Eugene Schulter.

According to social media, Schulter is running again for the 47th Ward Democratic committeeman position. Schulter has not formally announced his run.

*** UPDATE Nov. 13, 2011 @ 10.30A We added two paragraphs to explain the roll of SSAs and how they receive their funding. Go to the new text ***

*** UPDATE Nov. 13, 2011 @ 11.05A We moved two paragraphs to the end of the post to provide better flow to the story. And we added an explanation of what the HRAIL program is. ***

North Side Foreclosure Map

Based on data from Cook County, The Bulldog presents three months of foreclosures in North Side Zip Codes. Dataset from Cook County, period three months ended July 15, 2011.


View Foreclosures in 5 Ravenswood area ZIP Codes for 3 months ended July 15, 2011 in a larger map

*** Update on Nov. 8, 2011 @ 11.32A ***
A reader asked if we had this information available in a tabular form. Yep. It is posted it below.

The next question was where did the data come from? The data is for the three months ended July 15, 2011 and is freely available at the Cook County Data Portal: http://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov/Property-Taxation/Recorder-of-Deeds-Foreclosures-Information-via-PIN/4hnd-56by

You’ll notice if you go to that set that we have used Geographic coordinates to create the Google Map. That information is not apparent in the dataset. In other words, if you drill down into our map you can identify the exact address that was foreclosed. That’s generally true of all our data sets unless we alert you that it isn’t true.

That leaves a pretty bare map, without addresses, names and other information. Basically, that’s all that is available in this dataset.

Would it help to post PIN numbers or document numbers? We left those fields out of our data. Call or write and we’ll include them for the next review of this data set.***

North Attendance Area High Schools report

***Dec. 2, 2011 @ 4.09P An updated map and spread sheet on this subject is available. ***

How would you rank our area public schools?

In the next week parents will be sent a new report by the Chicago Public Schools. According to media reports, the ‘progress reports’ will accompany student report cards starting today.

The reports will emphasize students reaching benchmarks to go to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. Other indicators will include “teacher and staffing information, graduation rates, school climate, leadership and parent satisfaction,” the report says.

All of these measures are available through independent sources gathered here for you by The Bulldog.

Using surveys published within the past 18 months by Newsweek and Chicago Magazine, test scores compiled and analyzed by the Chicago Sun-Times, input from parents, students and community members on GreatSchools and in a University of Chicago survey and finally data provided by the Chicago Public Schools, The Bulldog set out this week to understand our public school system.

It is a difficult system to navigate. In the Ravenswood area there are four area public high schools: Lane Tech, Amundsen, Lake View and DeVry. In addition, a high school student has a wide choice of other schools. And a small part of our coverage has attendance at other schools, Roosevelt and Senn.

Mistakes made by parents and adults are paid for by children.

And we find this very frustrating: virtually no one in politics takes responsibility for the problems. They blame unions, parents, ‘the schools.’ We might look no deeper than the TIF issue to understand how this sorry situation has been twisted to benefit long-time politicians.

The Bulldog chose to start by creating a database that presents in one place a place for you to examine all the information on your school choices. We’ve presented this information to you as a searchable Google map and as a spread sheet that you can use to sort, filter and examine the information.

Today, we move on, providing information gathered about area public high schools.

In addition, we’ve added an outline so that parents who don’t live in Ravenswood or the North Attendance area can follow along and develop their own database. (For questions, see our report on elementary school posted yesterday.)

Did you have a suggestion? Did you see an error? Drop it in the comments and we’ll try to deal with it.

 

*** Update to table on Nov. 8, 2011 @ 11.24A. ***

A sharp-eyed reader asked about the ACT scores for Amundsen. We checked all the ACT scores and discovered that Amundsen and Lake View were incorrect, based on the CPS.edu site. In addition we added the ACT score for Northside Learning. The table has been corrected and the map should reflect the new results going forward.

We apologize for the error.

 

Mashup of Public High Schools for Ravenswood students

 

The Ratings and Rankings

 

Further Notes on the Schools

The instructions to follow regarding locating your neighborhood high school’s attendance districts are similar to those presented for the elementary schools. However the maps are in a different location. So, for instruction, finding information on schools not in our report follow these links to see a map of high school attendance districts.

North: http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/HS_North_Near_North.pdf

West/ Central and South: http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/HS_West_Central_South.pdf

Far South: http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/HS_Far_South.pdf

Ravenswood and North Attendance elementary schools scorecard

***UPDATED 12/2/2011 A more recent version of the map and spreadsheet are available.***

 

How would you rank our area public schools?

In the next week parents will be sent a new report by the Chicago Public Schools. According to media reports, the ‘progress reports’ will accompany student report cards starting today.

The reports will emphasize students reaching benchmarks to go to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. Other indicators will include “teacher and staffing information, graduation rates, school climate, leadership and parent satisfaction,” the report says.

All of these measures are available through independent sources gathered here for you by The Bulldog.

Using surveys published within the past 18 months by Newsweek and Chicago Magazine, test scores compiled and analyzed by the Chicago Sun-Times, input from parents, students and community members on GreatSchools and in a University of Chicago survey and finally data provided by the Chicago Public Schools, The Bulldog set out this week to understand our public school system.

It is a difficult system to navigate. In the Ravenswood area there are four area public high schools: Lane Tech, Amundsen, Lake View and DeVry. In addition, a high school student has a wide choice of other schools. And a small part of our coverage has attendance at other schools, Roosevelt and Senn.

Mistakes made by parents and adults are paid for by children.

And we find this very frustrating, virtually no one in politics takes responsibility for the problems. They blame unions, parents, ‘the schools.’ We might look no deeper than the TIF issue to understand how this sorry situation has been twisted to benefit long-time politicians.

The Bulldog chose to start by creating a database that presents in one place a place for you to examine all the information on your school choices. We’ve presented this information to you as a searchable Google map and as a spread sheet that you can use to sort, filter and examine the information.

Today, we start with our area elementary schools.

In addition, we’ve added an outline so that parents who don’t live in Ravenswood or the North Attendance area can follow along and develop their own database.

Did you have a suggestion? Did you see an error? Drop it in the comments and we’ll try to deal with it.

 

Ravenswood area neighborhood schools

North Attendance Area selective enrollment schools

 

 

The Ratings and Rankings

Further Notes on the Schools

 

Political Representation

Q: Where is the information from? What does it mean?

A: CPS Performance rating is a ranking of 1-100 issued for each school by the Chicago Public Schools. A score of 100 is best. If a school is on probation this is noted in the balloon. The information is available on the CPS.edu website.

The Chicago Sun-Times ranking of elementary schools (classes K-5), middle schools (classes 6-8) and high schools (classes 9-12) ranks schools based on the number of schools ranked. A ranking of one is best.

The University of Chicago Consortium study of CPS schools is exhaustive, covering many of the ‘soft’ issues that educators and parents believe are important to success. Each school has exhaustive reports including surveys of students who praise and critique the school. This ranking is based on a scale of -5 to +5. +5 is considered the best.

The Chicago Magazine ranking of schools was published in June 2010. The ranking of the top 250 elementary schools includes both city and suburban public schools. A ranking of 1 is best.

The GreatSchools site invites parents, students and educators to discuss their school. This rating is based on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being best and is awarded by the site. Further scores are published for community involvement.

Q: I don’t see my school. Why? 

A: Maybe we missed it? Ask a comment, we’ll answer. Other reasons: this is a site primarily designed for neighbors in the Ravenswood neighborhood. In the process of creating the database we attempted to identify every school choice for Ravenswood parents in CPS. That means that all of the North Attendance Area selective enrollment schools should be included.

Parents in the other two attendance area will need to develop their own data base. (This is really time consuming, but we’ll help by showing what we did. See our outline, below).

Q: My school shows a N/A or a N/R. What does that mean?

The reports are not comprehensive. In some cases no data was posted for a school.

In the case of one school, Chicago International Charter School, also known as CICS, we had issues with the data as it was sometimes aggregated for the more than 4,000 students in the CICS system of schools instead of for each school. Why is that important? Examine the relative differences for the Noble Street Schools, also charters, and you’ll see that the information should be broken down by school.

Q: One survey says the school is on probation, another lists it among the best, still another says the school didn’t meet Annual Yearly Progress. Help!

It is difficult to penetrate all the lingo used by educators. Our advice is to stop them when the initials come out and ask them to explain each set of initials.

There are differences in how different measures view the progress of a school. You as an adult will need to evaluate the different measures and make an informed decision.

Now, the AYP trips up even the best schools. A school can fail to meet AYP for RELATIVELY low scores in math or reading. We believe you’ll find AYP reports for the top three schools in the area. In some cases, the students in some categories, such as minorities or disabled, scored in the 80′s, missing the AYP of a score in the 90′s.

In other cases, among the poorest scoring schools, AYP demanded scores in the twenties or thirties and were missed. It is all RELATIVE.

But it is also an indicator of where the resources of the school, often determined by the Local School Council, should be focused.

Q: What other advice do you have for a parent?

First, we’ve listed the politicians responsible for these schools. This is not only your money, it is your child’s future being screwed up. Hold them responsible for improving the schools.

We’ve found the politicians love to cut ribbons, but they are also taking property taxes from TIF districts and using them for planters and special deals for developers. YOU have to say you notice and are holding them responsible for the schools.

The second advice we have is to dive deep into the University of Chicago Consortium report. The report explores areas that experts, parents and students all agree are critical to academic success. Here is one example, one school in the area discusses poor leadership with teachers criticizing each other.  That is an area of concern.

Which brings us to our final piece of advice. Go to the Local School Council meeting. Introduce yourself to the parent and community member representatives. If every parent in the school made a commitment to attend one LSC meeting during the year there would be dramatic increases in LSC participation.

Q: My primary language is Spanish (or Polish or Greek or something else). Do you have this report available in Spanish?

No. We are language illiterate here at The Bulldog. We apologize. There is a widget available that can give a rough translation of the text. You’ll find it on the sidebar to the right.

Q: Okay, but how was this information gathered? How do I do it for my neighborhood school that is not in Ravenswood?

Follow the instructions below.

  1. CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS DATA… Go to the following link and to find your school: http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Find_a_school/Pages/Findaschool.aspx
    1. If you know your school name enter it in the box. The CPS site is an unfriendly site: sometimes entering part of a school name works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there is no listing when you’ve been accurate with your spelling. If you can’t find the school through the name box, enter the ZIP Code the school is in. That should give you a list of every school in the ZIP Code.
    2. Find a map of Chicago ZIP Codes here: http://www.city-data.com/zipmaps/Chicago-Illinois.html
    3. We found that looking for schools through ZIP Code returned the best results. The querry will return a list of all schools in a ZIP Code. Most schools will be ‘neighborhood’ schools. These schools have “attendance districts.” You can find the attendance districts for the city on the map here:
      1. North http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_North.pdf
      2. Near North/ West/ Central http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_Near_North_West_Central.pdf
      3. South http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_South.pdf
      4. Far South http://www.cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/Zone%20maps/Elem_Far_South.pdf
    4. If you follow the hyper-link to the school you’ll find a page called ‘At-a-glance.’ The information from our report is not on this tab. It is under the tab called “Scorecard.”
    5. Scorecard gets meaty.
      1. The performance rating we publish in our balloon comes from the bold faced number immediately below the check boxes.
      2. A second number to examine here is the probation status of the school. Charter schools are not put on probation and will have a N/A checked.
      3. Below that are scores for the previous three years detailing about nine measures. The most interesting score to us was the ‘Relative school impact on student growth’ measured against reading and math. We believe these should be positive. Negative numbers here seem to indicate the school is holding students back.
      4. Finally below, at the bottom, are some important reports presented in PDF format. We found class size by examining the ‘State School Report Card’ for each school. That was a lengthy process.
  2. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES RANKING… The Chicago Sun-Times ranking report can be found at this site: http://fh.suntimes.com/reportcards/
    1. We found that the report was difficult to navigate. So we set it up to return a list only of CPS schools, then looked for the schools we were listing.
      1. Click ‘Advanced Search’.
      2. Under District go to “City of Chicago SD 299”. Click search.
      3. The return will be a list of all CPS schools. Choose the school you are interested in.
        1. At the top of the next page will be the name of the school, attendance and the grades served. This is a very long report with a lot of great information.
        2. On the next line, below the hyper-links, the Sun-Times lists school rank.
        3. Below that is some text. Much of it is boilerplate. Take a moment to read why the school missed its AYP. Not the Composite scores in the box.
        4. Far down the page is where you can find average class size for the school. The Bulldog used a different source for its class size.
  3. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO CONSORTIUM REPORT AND RATINGS… The University of Chicago Consortium report can be found here: https://www.ccsrsurvey.uchicago.edu/2011/
    1. You’ll either need the ZIP Code or the school name to start your search. By the time we got to this report for the database, we had already developed our list of target schools. This is the best independent report and is based on independent information. All the other information is based on reports to the state. Everything else is based on the same base of information. We highly recommend reading these reports in depth.
  4. CHICAGO MAGAZINE RANKINGS… The article for Chicago Magazine starts here: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-Ranking-Charts/
    1. Follow the link to the best Chicago schools: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-City-of-Chicago/
    2. The link isn’t obvious, but the ranking continues here: http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/October-2010/Best-Elementary-Schools-City-of-Chicago/
    3. The immediate issue with the ranking is that it seems to be based only on the percent of students who meet or exceed the state standard. So, other factors that determine success, such as those measured by the UofC study, are ignored.
    4. Finally, it appears the data in this study is dated, as the methodology indicated it was based on reports from 2005.
  5. GREATSCHOOLS RATING… Finally we get to the GreatSchools ranking. The site notes here: http://www.greatschools.org/illinois/chicago/Chicago-Public-Schools/that deadlines for high schools are due in December and for elementary schools in January.
    1. This page allows you to browse the top ranked schools. To find a particular school we used the text box in the upper right corner. This site will anticipate your key strokes with suggestions for the school based on what you type.  The site also has comments from students, staff and parents about the school.

Bell and Lane top Sun-Times school report card

Two area public schools were named among the top 50 in the state in the annual Chicago Sun-Times ranking of Illinois schools.

Bell School was one of 13 Chicago Public Schools that met the standards for the top 50 elementary schools. The neighborhood school was one of just six District 299 schools that did not have eligibility requirements for enrollment and still was ranked by the newspaper.

Bell ranked 29th among CPS schools and 33rd in the state, the report says. The middle school classes ranked 19th in the state.

At a recent meeting of the Bell Local School Council concern was expressed that parents were pulling students from the school for the middle school Academic Center at nearby Lane Tech.

That might cause the school to experience a lower score in the future.

Although Bell was highly ranked, the school still failed to meet the requirements for the No Child Left Behind Act due to lower than accepatable reading scores among its disabled population.

Lane Tech was ranked 20th among all Illinois schools in the ranking. The large school boasts having a larger minority and low income proportion of its student body than many smaller magnet schools.

Six of those smaller schools, including nearby Northside College Prep, were ranked above Lane. The newspaper said the top three public schools in the state were all in Chicago: Northside, Whitney Young and Walter Payton.

Lake View High School was ranked 470th among 638 high schools. Amundsen ranked 536th on the same scale. Both schools were identified by the newspaper as in need of improvement for the ninth year in a row.

Lake View, the report says, is struggling with low math and reading scores among its entire population, with low scores for Hispanics and low-income students.

The problems the report highlights at Amundsen are similar, but more pronounced with lower composite scores.

Among the neighborhood elementary schools Blaine followed behind Bell, being ranked 103rd statewide and 52nd among middle schools.

Audubon and Coonley followed Blaine. Audubon was ranked 308th for elementary grades and 204th for middle schools. Coonley was ranked 388th for elementary and 391st for middle school.

Other schools and the ranks for elementary and middle school composite tests in the Sun-Times ranking:

    • Audubon ranked 308 and 204.
    • Bell ranked 29 and 19. The school did not meet AYP due to low reading scores among its disabled students.
    • Blaine ranked 103 and 52.
    • Budlong ranked 999 and 834. The Budlong composite was hurt by low reading scores. The composite fell to 80.9 percent from 81.4 the previous year.
    • Bell ranked 103 and 52.
    • Chappell ranked 1198 and 691. The composite score rose to 82.3 percent from 75.3 percent.
    • Coonley ranked 388 and 391. The school composite score fell to 90.8 from 92.0 the previous year.
    • Courtenay ranked 991 and 346. The school met the AYP, but had falling scores of 90.8 percent v 94.5 last year.
    • Hamilton scored 1422 and 880. Hamilton did not meet AYP due to reading scores. Composite has increased to 78.2 from 69.0.
    • McPherson ranked 1444 and 920. The school did not meet AYP due to reading scores and Hispanic reading scores (which actually exceeded that of the general school population) but had rising composite of 78.5 v 75.7. McPherson has been identified as in need of improvement by the newspaper for the 10th year in a row.
    • Ravenswood ranked 1698 and 1395. The school had a composite rank of 71.8 percent, up from 67.3 percent. It did not meet AYP due to math and reading scores. It has been identified as in need of improvement for the third year in a row.
    • Trumbull was ranked 1843 and 1035. The school did not meet AYP due to both math and reading scores. Trumbull has a falling composite score of 68.4 percent v 77.2. The school has been identified as in need of improvement for the first year.
    • Waters was ranked 1218 and 528. It did not meet AYP due to math scores. The school had rising composite scores of 81.1 percent versus 78.9 the previous year. Waters has been identified as in need of improvement for the 10thyear in a row.