AM News: Science Scores Lag Behind Other Cities

image from webmedia.newseum.orgChicago 8th-graders score near bottom in national science tests Chicago Sun-Times: Chicago Public School eighth-graders racked up the fourth-worst science scores among 17 big-city districts to take a national science test, results released Thursday indicated... Chicago students lag in science Chicago Tribune:  The findings were not surprising for Chicago Public Schools, whose students, on average, are also testing behind others in math and reading... Posh schools make grade on Illinois school report cards Sun Times:  However, only 27 percent of freshmen entered Lincoln Park High this year via the neighborhood route, Boraz estimated. The remainder entered via a citywide competition for performing arts seats or academically advanced ones... Contract school in Chicago's Austin neighborhood closing in JuneWQAD:  School officials say the Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy, a Chicago Public Schools' contract high school on the city's West Side, will be closing when the current school year ends in June... MORE BELOW

Should local schools pay for teachers' pensions? Chicago Daily Herald: Chicago Public Schools already pay into teachers' pensions with relatively little help from the state, but suburban schools get help from all the state's taxpayers, he said... Mokena Schools Make Severe Budget Cuts:  That's how Mokena School District Superintendent Karen Perry described new budget cuts which include, laying off 20 employees, including seven teachers and eliminating extracurricular activities with the exception of four academic programs. .. Suburban school district cuts 13 teachers:  The Woodland District 50 school board in Grayslake on Thursday night cut 13 teachers and several support staff as it tried to fill a $4 million gap in its fiscal year 2012 budget, but officials said declining enrollment means class sizes will not increase. Even with the cuts, the district's shortfall is is still nearly $3 million, officials said...Emanuel names mayor transition team Tribune:  Emanuel's transition team will focus on seven issues ahead of his May 16 swearing-in: economic development and planning; education; budget and government "reinvention"; public safety and consumer protection; transportation and infrastructure; the environment and public space; and arts and culture. They also will make recommendations for leaders of the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Public Schools.


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  • Well if the Tribune and Sun Times want to get really upset about science scores, they should look at how CPS kids are testing on the science section of the ACT. In the 2010 ACT test report only 9% of CPS graduating students reached what is called the college readiness benchmark in science (to see this data go to

    Now possibly CPS charter schools are doing much better? Well in 2010 at Urban Prep only 3% of the school's supposedly college bound students reached the ACT college readiness benchmark in science. At Noble Street charter only 7% of that school's supposedly college bound students reached the ACT college readiness benchmark in science. At Perspectives Charter again we see only 3% of the school's supposedly college bound students reached the ACT college readiness benchmark in science.
    The only reason the CPS city wide average is 9% of CPS graduating students reached what is called the college readiness benchmark in science is because the big three college prep schools which pull up the average for the entire city. As I have pointed out on this blog before even a high school like Lane Tech has only 36% of that school's supposedly college bound students reaching the ACT college readiness benchmark in science. However, even that mediocre score for Lane simply blows the supposedly best charter schools in the city out of the water.

    Possibly ACT data such as I have just provided on this blog might just raise some concerns in the wider media of claims being made by charters like Urban Prep of being able to get numerous students through four year college. Today NBC 5 is running an a black history month public service announcement showing Urban Prep students reciting the schools creed which in part states: "We are college bound. We are exceptional-not because we say it, but because we work hard at it."

    I would suggest that the media look a little more closely at claims of college preparedness of charter schools in Chicago, don't parents deserve to know the truth?

    Rod Estvan

  • Schools are spending so much time on reading and math, often, science gets skipped entirely. And I have never, out of the 4 schools I've taught in, seen any school supply it's teachers with anything other than science books. No manipulatives, no experiment supplies, no equipment. I mean, really, how is one to teach a unit on magnets with no magnets?

  • Walked into the science lab at Lenart RGC and found science tables but no stools for the kids to sit at, and a large utility closet with completely empty shelves. Anyone know how science materials are funded? What about CMSI?

  • I do not think that I have denigrated Urban Prep, the school does not claim to be building just a college going culture, what exactly that is other than being middle class I am not sure, it claims to parents that on completion of high school if you child enrolls in Urban Prep they will complete college. The data indicates that some students will complete college, but based on what ACT believes is necessary for college completion most students currently will not complete college. This is despite endless repetition of the Urban Prep creed by these same students. America is a harsh and competitive place, it is built on wealth and meritocracy. We should not demoralize students and lower their expectations, but we have to be reality based too.

    CPS general high schools make no such promise to parents and if they did they clearly could not keep such a promise. The big three college prep high schools have the vast majority of their students reaching the ACT college readiness benchmark in science and all other areas. This is no real surprise is it? As to claiming having only 3% of students reaching the ACT college readiness benchmark in science at Urban Prep is not looking shabby, that seems unreal to me. I think it reflects low expectations for urban students and I am not at all sure the staff at Urban Prep would agree with that assessment.

    The truth is no matter what type of culture a school attempts to create completing college in not an easy thing, most Americans black, white, or Hispanic do not complete four years of college. The two critical factors in college completion are the student's social economic status and overall cognitive processing abilities. Very few disabled students, including one of my own children, ever even graduate from ever a junior college program let alone a four year program even with private tutoring support, and ADA required modifications.

    What needs to be imposed on all schools is some type of code of ethics in relation to advertising and claims being made to enroll students. In the years to come it is only going to get harder for urban students to complete college, costs are rising as are admissions standards at many better public universities. Students call always enroll in a college drop out factory, but the debt poorer students take on stays with them for ever, you can not even get out from under it by declaring bankruptcy

    Rod Estvan

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