Doing It "The SLI Way"


There's a lot of praise (and a lot of self-reported data) in this Education Week article about SLI's efforts to help Chicago schools improve, which are characterized as a softer, gentler version of the brutal turnaround efforts undertaken by the Board.

"In 2007 and 2008, two schools in the network led the city's 470-some K-8 schools in gains on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. By Strategic Learning's definition, five of the 10 schools were "turned around," meaning state test scores were improving at a rate at least six times faster than before, and school-level leaders agreed with the progress."

But is this for real, and is it still working?

"The seven schools remaining in the network are finishing the last year of their four years of work with Strategic Learning. Two decided to leave the network to do their own professional development and another was turned into a contract school by the district."

NB:I did some freelance writing for SLI a few years ago.

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  • Since this program, SLI is really producing positive test results in CPS schools, why is it not used more by CPS?

  • I got my copy of Education Week yesterday and I also read Dakarai Aarons January 6, 2010 article on Strategic Learning Initiatives outcomes with 10 CPS schools. The article indicates that their approach may represent an alternative to firing everyone or turning the school into a charter school. I will tell all the readers of this blog that peeked my interest in what SLI was doing at these 10 schools. The article indicated the 10 schools ISAT data was analyzed on by the American Institutes for Research out of Washington DC. I down loaded the study and read it carefully. Blog readers can find this study at:

    As always I was looking for data showing improvement for students with disabilities at these ten schools. The report calls the 10 schools the Focused Instruction Process schools (FIP) and there is absolutely no data on students with disabilities included in this report. The report does draw very positive conclusions about FIP for all students stating:

  • I hope Rod is mentoring, oh, about seven upcoming advocates such as himself. The man carries the Chicago sped world on his shoulders. I hope we always have a Rod around.

  • Would it be possible to have bifurcated program, if SLI is effective for the non-disabled students whereby SLI is used for that population, but a different kind of reform is used for the disabled students? What would that reform look like? What is best practices for getting disabled students to perform equally with their age cohorts?

  • I think Cermak Rd makes an interesting point. I think based on the data I have pulled down so far that it may be possible that many students with IEPs at these schools may need more foundational reading interventions. I have decided I may do a white paper on this issue where I go into far greater depth than the post. I also plan on contacting SLI directly. I have every reason to believe that they do want to effectively educate all students, but either techincally due to a lack of knowledge relating to the learning needs of these students or for reasons of funding can not attack the reading deficits of many of the students with disabilities in these schools.

    Rod Estvan

  • You are great Ron--wish CPS or ISBE would hire you.
    CPS may not continue funding this program which would not be surprising since CPS is CPS. The CAOs of these schools are probably messing with this successful program right now.
    In the SLI study, were ELL students included? This may lower their results if they did NOT include ELL students in this study.

  • The American Institutes for Research study of the Strategic Learning Inititatives program results at 10 CPS school does not provide any data on reading improvement for ELL students. Access Living does not have a data base for CPS ELL scores so I really can say nothing about the issue. To create the data base we have took over 120 hours of work, it is not a simple task. Basically you have to take massive ASCII files that are comma-delimited with fixed column positions. Put them into ACCESS97 database then create an Excel formula using a linear equation that will extract supressed data for ISAT and PSAE scores. ELL scores are subject to the same data supression rules as are scores for students with IEPs.

    Rod Estvan

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