A study by the University of Chicago released this week is highlighting strengths and weaknesses in Chicago Public Schools. The study is based on results of surveys of students, faculty and parents at each of the more than 600 CPS schools, including charter schools.
The Chicago Consortium study, which asks questions pertaining to five “essential” areas summarizes the survey results as they pertain to those five areas of culture and climate.
The publication of the results is being criticized as now, according to critics on the District 299 site, schools will try to game the system.
But the results offer a detailed look at the system by researchers independent of the schools and the union.
In Ravenswood there were a number of surprises. There were schools that are well perceived by the public that had weaknesses exhibited, and some strengths too.
In general, community support for the schools is strong. That is reflected by students noting the variety of services and support in places like Lane, Blaine and Lake View.
The provision of basic classes in math and English are keys to a fulfilling adult life. Yet, some schools are disappointing, with students noting they have not experienced types of instruction needed to grow these skills.
The study puts the issue into perspective: Principals should prioritize the school’s improvement efforts; teachers should reflect on needs in and beyond the classroom; and the public should engage and support the efforts of the schools.
Below is our summary and links to finding greater detail for each of our neighborhood public schools.
Lane Tech, considered a jewel in the CPS system, received a low score for math instruction. The result, based on student surveys, dragged down the overall student approval of a higher than average course clarity and English instruction giving Lane a yellow.
A low response rate among teachers limited the scoring at Lane. However students identified the Human and Social Resources in the Community as strong. The result indicates students believe they come from communities where there are adults whom they trust and who provide a save environment.
This was echoed by students saying they feel safe in and around the school building and in their travels to school.
Teacher response to the survey at Lake View was so low that none of the measures of their impression of performance were published.
However, the students were enthusiastic about the Human and Social Resources in the community, scored as slightly below that of Lane students on the same resources.
Students at Amundsen criticized the math courses. The survey measured student interaction with course material to build and apply knowledge.
Teachers at Amundsen identified issues with the principal. The principal was criticized in the survey by teachers for failing to provide instructional leadership. The survey also pointed to issues with teacher and principal trust. Together, and with below average scores in other measures, the survey indicated weaknesses in instructional leadership at Amundsen.
The only charter school in the area, DeVry Advantage, did not have a high enough response in any area to be noted on the survey.
Students gave Blaine a score of 99 out of 100 on Human and Social Resources in the Community and in school safety. Blaine students also scored their trust of teachers very high. Together they pushed Blaine into a strong area on the score of Ambitious Instruction and Learning Climate.
The Blaine students also scored the math instruction as strong and noted the course clarity provided clear learning goals.
Students were disappointed by the course clarity, math instruction, academic personalization, the ‘academic press’ or expectations from teachers.
Other weak scores were found among teachers who noted a low measure of a collective responsibility in such areas as student development, school improvement and professional growth. That was mirrored by a lack of teacher to teacher trust in the school.
As a result the school scored two areas of concern without any clear bright spots.
Chappell performed well for its family and community ties. This result was not due to doing an outstanding job in any one area, but instead of being having overall strong survey results across a broad area of concern.
Coonley scored very well in a number of areas related to family and community ties including 95 out of 100 points in human and social resources in the community, a student result, and teacher-parent trust, which was a teacher survey. Teachers also noted the school has strong outreach efforts to parents.
The final result was that Coonley scored one of the few ‘dark green’ among Ravenswood school in this area of concern. Dark green indicates Coonley is very strong in this general area.
Students noted they feel safe at the school, contributing to a healthy learning environment, according to the survey.
The only weakness, according to the survey of students, was that math instruction was weak. The students scored math so low that it dragged down other scores among the ambitious instruction area.
Courtenay scored 99 out of 100 among its students for course clarity. It had other areas of strength among students in the area of ambitious instruction and scored a dark green in this area.
Students also noted two other areas where they scored the school as 99 out of 100: student-teacher trust and school safety. A very strong score in academic personalization and above average scores in other survey results indicated students felt the learning environment was dark green.
Overall, Courtenay received two scores of exceptional strength. It was the only Ravenswood-area school to do so.
A strong English program, scored 99 out of 100 by students, led the Hamilton report. However, a low level of ‘quality of student discussion’ dragged the potential for Hamilton to score well in ambitious instruction down to an average overall score.
Teachers noted the school has a low level of collective responsibility. That seemed to stem from a lack of professional trust among teachers as they scored low in that area also.
Although McPherson scored well among students for its human and social resources, it suffered from a below average scores in a number of measures of creating an ambitious academic instruction leading to a red mark in that area.
Math instruction was very poorly ranked by students, receiving just 10 of 100 points.
In general, average scores in other areas did not allow Ravenswood to stand out.
A red note on creating an ambitious academic environment was lead by students scoring only 13 of 100 points for English instruction at Trumbull. Math instruction was also scored low, with students giving the school just 22 of 100 points.