Tuesday AM News: NCLB scores and grades, Curie, Oprah, Freedom to blossom

Making grade just got easier Tribune
A record number of Illinois schools escaped federal No Child Left Behind sanctions this school year, largely because of changes in how schools are judged and alterations that made state achievement exams easier for students to pass.

How does your score compare? Tribune
This year, for the first time, parents of elementary pupils can see how their child performed compared to pupils around the country.

Scores stagnant at high schools Tribune
In a year when elementary schools posted record high gains on state tests, scores for Illinois' high schools continue to remain flat.

Decision to fire principal doesn't look good, so far Tribune
So far, it looks like the local school council at Curie Metropolitan High School is out of control. As you may have read, the LSC--a citizen governing board--has voted along racial lines not to renew the contract of an esteemed, veteran principal without giving the community one good reason.

Is Oprah's African school too strict for students? Sun Times

Oprah Winfrey says her new private girls school in South Africa is about "building dreams" and creating a new generation of leaders. Former South African President Nelson Mandela has called it one of the keys to his nation's future.

No Child scores soar, some credit tests  Sun Times
Significantly more Illinois schools hit testing goals of the federal No Child Left Behind law in 2006 than ever before, new state data released today shows.

Students given freedom to blossom Sun Times
By 7:30 a.m., Principal James "Jay'' Lalley is standing in his usual spot, in the front foyer of Chicago's Northside College Prep, greeting kids with a "Good morning'' as they stroll in the door before the 7:55 a.m. start of class.

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  • Access Living sent out to the Sun Times the following letter on test scores today:

    March 14, 2007

    Letters to the Editor

    Chicago Sun-Times

    350 N. Orleans

    Chicago IL 60654

    The Sun-Times in its coverage of the 2006 state test results noted in passing that every subgroup improved performance over 2005, except for students with disabilities. In general, for the subgroup of students with disabilities, progress is measured by the extent they close the achievement gap with their non-disabled peers and the percentage of these students who tested at or above state standards.

    The achievement gap for CPS students with disabilities relative to CPS students without disabilities has in fact been increasing since 2001. There has been an extremely small increase in the percentage of CPS students with disabilities reaching state standards since 2001, but there has been a significant improvement in the state mandated test scores of their non-disabled CPS peers. Reading scores for CPS students with disabilities are generally lower than for disabled students educated outside of Chicago.

    The 2006 CPS district report card now indicates that 7% of high school juniors with disabilities can read at or above state standards. In 2001 only 4.6% of these CPS students were at or above state standards in reading. Clearly this dismal progress is not much to cheer about. It is even more distressing when one understands that the most seriously disabled students in CPS are given an alternative test that has been created by the state, many students with disabilities are provided with legally appropriate testing modifications, and a good number of students with disabilities have dropped out by their junior year.

    Instead of providing additional resources for these students to succeed academically CPS has reduced these resources. Access Living last year opposed a $26 million dollar reduction for special education staff that was included in CPS FY07 budget. During the course of the school year CPS has reinstated some of these cut positions, but far from all were restored. Access Living along with all other disability advocacy organizations in Chicago, parents, and high school aged students with disabilities opposed these cuts because students with disabilities attending CPS were being left academically behind even before the budget cuts were approved by CPS.

    It is time for the Chicago Board of Education to take ownership for the academic

    achievement of the over fifty thousand students with disabilities attending public schools.

    Yours truly,

    Rodney D. Estvan

    Education Outreach Coordinator

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