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Cutting Class

Four takes on the Consortium's freshmen attendance report:

Freshmen schooled on attendance Tribune
A 90 percent on a test can mean a pat on the back and an A. But
attending school only 90 percent of the time in the first semester of
high school means you may not graduate, according to a new study on
graduation rates in the Chicago Public Schools system.

Freshmen Grades Critical to Graduation Prospects WBEZ
That finding in a new study is behind a push by Chicago Public Schools to reach out to the families of incoming ninth graders.

Average CPS freshman: 19 absences, 2.6 F's Chicago Sun Times
The
average Chicago public school freshman misses nearly a month of school
and racks up more than two semester grades of F in their critical first
year of high school

Slipping Through Grand Canyon-Sized Cracks Chicagoist
Is it just us, or are those some exceptionally depressing numbers?

Filed under: Foundation Follies

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  • We at Access Living read this Consortium study and had serious problems with it. We sent the following letter to the John Easton at the Consortium:

    August 15, 2007

    Sent by email to jqeaston@ccsr.uchicago.edu

    John Easton

    Consortium on Chicago School Research

    1313 East 60th Street

    Chicago, Illinois 60637

    Dear John,

    I just finished reading

  • 8:36 if you have the phone number for the family have them call Access Living and ask for me. More than likely the high school will back down once we put a complaint in writing.

    Rod Estvan

    312-640-2149

  • I am working with a parent who is getting no where with the school, Board, or with ISBE. Her daughter has been in Special Education for over three years and they are still instructing her on the same grade level. When she was tested into Special Education, her IEP said to instruct on the 3rd grade level and that she would reach 4th grade at the end of the year. Her new IEP once again says to begin at the 3rd grade level (3+ years later). The mediator told the school to retest her but it was done in summer assessment by a psychologist who spent less than an hour with her (she was angry because the parent was late--CPS provided the transportation and picked her up over an hour late). She is requesting that she be placed at another school which is actually closer to her house and no one will contact her to tell her what is happening. She went to Equip for Equality but the advocate is just telling her that they have to wait for the Board to respond. School is going to begin soon and the student is going into 8th grade (one of the most important years).

    Can anyone give the parent any suggestions?

  • Responding to Margaret:I have to assume the parent agreed to a binding argeement via the mediation process and has a document produced by that process. I am guessing that may be why Equip is indicating the parent has to wait for the CPS response. This document is enforceable in federal court if its terms are not carried out.

    Responding to Spedteacher: I met with Dr. Koch along with Designs for Change, the Family Resource Center, and others. Many of the problems relating to special ed in CPS were raised. I fact ISBE is aware of many of the problems.

    The complex factors for that agency in my opinion are (1)its staff was radically reduced several years ago, (2)ISBE does not want to take over administration of special ed in Chicago because it does not believe it can do so, (3)sending CPS endless non-compliance notices that are to some degree ignored make ISBE look weaker, (4) the Governor will not support cuting off funds to CPS for non-compliance. So ISBE is not going to do much to radically change the CPS special ed situation right now even though Dr. Koch is the most special education knowlegeable superintendent in Illinois history.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living

  • 1:16 asks if everything will stay the same with CPS special education based on the lack of intervention from ISBE. Some of my friends who are still teaching special education in CPS think things will get worse. This is a real possibility because next school year (2008-2009)the 20-1 resource teacher case load rule established by the State special education administrative code will be basically eliminated. Resource teachers could have more students to be responsible for.

    Tomorrow I will be going to the CPS Board meeting to object to the budget for special education services. The budget basically provides a 3% pay raise for special ed teachers and aides at the cost of a significant cut in non-compensation parts of the special ed budget. Overall the picture is not bright. Needless to say teachers need a raise, but funding a good part of that raise for special ed teachers by cutting other special ed related expenditures is very sad indeed.

    1:38 makes an intersting point on students with disabilities going into the workforce. Here is part what we have to say about that in our review of the budget we are presenting tomorrow to the CPS Board:

    "What does all this mean in terms of life outcomes for CPS students with disabilities? CPS has never done a study to our knowledge. But there is a fair amount of information indicating these former CPS students with disabilities are massively unemployed and unable to complete post secondary education programs.

    National data indicates that students who reported any type of disabilities were less

    likely than their counterparts without disabilities to have stayed enrolled or earned a postsecondary degree or credential within 5 years of high school graduation. Students with disabilities were less likely than those without disabilities to have attained bachelor

  • Responding to Rod: The parent has not agreed to anything in mediation beyond the re-testing. I've suggested that she contact you to see if you can help her.

    Responding to comments on slow progress: I was a SPED teacher for 32 years. I know some students make slow progress but this is a case where the school keeps saying the student is meeting her goals for the year and then putting her back to a lower level the next year. Either the school should be modifying the goals and acknowledging that the student has not meet previous goals or something else is going on.

    The school can not have it both ways. They can not say the student reached a 4th grade level at the end of the first year and then teach the child at a 3rd grade level the next year!!!!!!!!! This is not a low functioning student. The student is in a regular classroom most of the time.

  • I think the idea of a hotline is a great one!!!!!! I hear many parents complaining that when they turn to the advocacy groups like Family Resource Center they are just referred to trainings instead of being provided with real support. Funding needs to be increased so the groups can go out with parents to meetings, etc.

  • Responding to Annie: No, the parent was told the student was not eligible for summer school or for ESY. The student is going in to 8th grade which is one reason I think what is happening is so bad.

    I agree with the above. For years, I have been suggesting that parents contact ISBE and in most cases it has gotten them no where. I sat through several Correy H. hearings and the judge seems to still believe the Board's lies. I don't know what the answer is.

  • If there are special education teachers that want to work with advocacy groups on getting families to actively fight for their legal rights under IDEA Access Living would be more than willing to help bring us all together. You are right that our resources are limited and we can only attend a limited number of IEP meetings.

    I am sure that Equip for Equality, Family Resource Center, and Designs for Change would be willing to meet with teachers. Clearly this would have to be done in a way that would protect all of you from any actions on the part of CPS against you.

    I will be out of town until Monday call me at Access Living or email me at rdest@aol.com we can talk.

    Rod Estvan

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