High School Transformation Rolls On

See the attached CPS press release for the announcement of $21 million more in Gates funding for the HST project as well as the list of 14 schools that are going to pilot the innovative effort.

A couple of interesting notes:  (1) The release says that there are going to be 30 more new schools in the next four years.  Does that mean Ren10 has already been credited with 60?  (2) Perhaps in anticipation of the coming Consortium report, the release uses the figure 46 percent to describe what portion of 9th graders graduate four years later.  (3) In all, the HST project is supposed to reach 50 of the city's 100 large high schools over the next five years.

CPS press release:



$21 Million Investment
by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will

High School College
Prep Curriculum and Instruction

Mayor Richard M. Daley today announced
an investment of $21 million for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to implement
a groundbreaking high school transformation plan. The investment by
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund major improvements
in high school curriculum and instruction so that all 
students in Chicago have access to a high quality education that will
prepare them for success in college and work.

To keep our young people motivated
throughout high school, we have to offer courses that capture their
interest and provide them with the knowledge they need to graduate and
to go on to college or some other form of post-secondary education.
And we have to make sure our teachers are well prepared and able to
inspire their students with a love of learning, Daley said at a news
conference at Crane Technical Preparatory Commons School, 2245 W. Jackson
Blvd. Were very eager to be one of the first big cities to meet
this challenge, and were pleased to have such a strong partner in
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The broad, new high school transformation
plan was first unveiled last September by CPS Chief Executive Officer
Arne Duncan. It will improve classroom instruction, provide parents
and students more school options and opportunities, and make school
performance more accountable to parents by giving them new tools, such
as a scorecard to track school performance in a range of areas,
including graduation, school climate, teacher information, and student

In Chicago we have worked hard to
develop what we think is one of the most thoughtful and comprehensive
approaches to high school reform in the nation, Duncan said. Its
aimed at raising expectations and preparing every child for success
after high school. Were especially grateful to the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation for recognizing the merits of our approach and choosing
to support those efforts.

Chicago will strengthen its school improvement
plan with a new, rigorous college preparatory curriculum in English,
math, and science; more instructional support for teachers; and recruitment
of and professional support for high-quality principals. The new transformation
initiative builds on Chicagos recent work to improve its high schools.
Through Mayor Daleys Renaissance 2010 plan and the foundation-supported
Chicago High School Redesign Initiative, CPS has already launched 22
new small high schools that stress rigorous coursework, more personalized
support, and accountability, with plans to open 30 more new schools
in the next four years.

Like many other large urban districts,
Chicagos large, traditional high schools struggle to provide the
challenging, relevant coursework and personalized instruction necessary
for all young people to graduate prepared for success beyond high school.
Currently, just 47 percent of Chicagos high school graduates go on
to college, while 46 percent of ninth graders drop out before graduation.
Once in college, many students need remedial classes that cover content
that should have been mastered in high school.

Chicagos commitment to enacting
meaningful high school improvement has the potential to transform the
quality of education students receive and to put them on the right track
toward success in college and work, said Tom Vander Ark, executive
director of education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With
the kind of academic rigor, challenging and relevant coursework, and
more supportive teachers that ensure student success, Chicago can increase
its graduation and college readiness rates and serve as a model for
school districts throughout the nation.

CPS will first implement its new curricula
in 14 schools, starting with the ninth grade. The reform efforts will
then expand to other grades and to 36 additional high schools over the
next three years. With the help of its strategic planning partner, the
Boston Consulting Group, CPS will address five of the most significant
challenges in its high schools strengthening the curricula, increasing
the rigor and relevance of courses, adding depth to course content,
improving professional development, and providing better school-based
support. A recent national study, The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives
of High School Dropouts
, revealed that many students drop out of
school because they are bored with their classes. This plan aims to
provide a more challenging and engaging learning experience to better
prepare students for college and help the district meet its goal of
increasing the graduation rate to 70 percent by 2010. The initial 14
schools are:

  • Bowen Environmental Studies
      Team (BEST)
  • Carver Military Academy
  • Chicago Military Academy at
  • Clark Academic Prep High School
  • Crane High School
  • Dunbar Vocational High School
  • Dyett High School
  • Fenger Academy High School
  • John Hope College Preparatory
      High School
  • Kenwood Academy 
  • Wendell Phillips High School
  • School of the Arts, South
      Shore Campus
  • Mose Vines Preparatory Academy
      at Orr Campus
  • George Washington High School

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