AM News: City Colleges To Help CPS Grads

IL_CT (3)Kids Start Day With Breakfast WBEZ:  Audubon is one of nearly 300 Chicago schools to begin serving breakfast in class this spring, as part of a district policy that says breakfast now must be served in elementary classrooms during school hours... Top Cop Against Police Reallocation CNC:  McCarthy began the almost four hour hearing by laying out his goals for making Chicago a "national model" in policing, which include implementing a safety plan for CPS students... More money at heart of special session debate Statehouse News:  Quinn is calling lawmakers back to Springfield to fix what he says is broken with the state's construction projects this summer...City Colleges to offer summer courses to help incoming CPS graduates Catalyst:  Level Up will offer five weeks of classes and tutoring in reading, writing and math for up to 200 CPS grads.... MORE NEWS ITEMS BELOW - WHAT'D I MISS?

We know white kids cyberbully more than minorities; we don't know why Medill:  The number of schools majority white enrollment than schools with minority white enrollment that see cyberbullying issues at least once a week is more than double that for schools where whites are the minority...First lady Michelle Obama, daughters made secret trip to Chicago Sun Times:  The dynamo trio came in May 27 and left the city May 29. While in town they helped send the son of their best couple friends, Marty Nesbitt and his lovely wife, Dr. Anita Blanchard, off to his prom... Duncan Reduces Public Schedule EdWeek:  The Education Department said today that he's under doctor's orders to rest, and stay off airplanes, for several more weeks... Denver's School Turnaround Plan Echoes Duncan Priority HuffED:  Some schools hired new principals. Elsewhere, principals reconstituted their staffs and are now planning their curricula... Unschooled NPR:  Sam Fuller of Albany, Calif., is part of a rare minority of home-schoolers who call themselves "unschooled" -- a more unstructured, self-directed form of home schooling... How to Determine the 'Good' From the 'Bad'? PBS:  Based on its reading scores, the school is failing. But, in person, it seems to be thriving. Is it a good school or a bad school?... 

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  • I really think that journalists in this town need to at least dig a little bit into a story. There is no better example than the story about the Chicago City Colleges (CCC) program called Level Up that Alexander linked on this blog today. The idea of Level Up is part of what is called the reinvention process that CCC is undertaking. To comprehend this process it helps to read what it is about and that can be done by going to

    Level Up is the friendly part of CCC's attempt to eliminate or at least radically reduce down the road remedial education as a service it provides. Here is what the white paper says about this:

    "CCC spends more than $30 million in direct costs to remediate our students... Part of the reason for these costs is that, regardless of where students come from, more than 90% of incoming students need remediation in one or more courses. And the reality is that if a student at CCC needs help in three or more subjects, they have a 1 in 10 chance of earning a degree or credential. If there was no remediation need, our graduation rates could be as high as 30%, as evidenced by our current students who have no remediation needs. This would be better than 22%, the average of our peer group and the nation."

    Access Living attempted to get a representative on what CCC calls the Reinvention Remediation Task Force, we were denied and instead given a slot on another task force which is useful, but not as critical as this task force. There is simply no other college option for high functioning CPS students with disabilities who require remediation before taking college level course work. Moreover, CCC has for years been reducing its student support services for disabled students and it has eliminated almost all of its programs for developmentally disabled students.

    The hope of CCC is that the five-week Level Up program will allow CPS students to skip remedial education or at least reduce the number of remedial classes necessary for the average CPS high school graduate. According to CCC 97% of CPS graduates attending CCC require remediation.

    Level Up is effectively a test prep class for the CCC Compass placement examine which Level Up students will be taking for a second time. Compass is computer-adaptive test, the COMPASS program adjusts the item difficulty level to the skills of the individual student, eliminating items that are too easy or too difficult and that contribute little to the measurement. COMPASS results are available within seconds upon completion of testing, with a hard copy for the student and multiple reporting formats for the test administrator. The test is owned by ACT, but CCC can set cut off scores for student eligibility.

    What I find disturbing about Level Up is that CCC indicates that after completing the 5 week Level Up course students will take the COMPASS again, but their new scores will no longer be the sole determinant of eligibility to take college level classes. In addition there will be an "evaluation of completed classroom work" that will also be taken into consideration. So it appears to me CCC intends on pushing as many students as possible on, even if their formal COMPASS scores are low but they show that they have "the ambition to improve their basic skills."

    For most students with learning disabilities this 5 week fix up course will probably not work and taking the Level Up class and not improving their COMPASS scores may very well convince some of them that they are not college material and not bother with even any remedial course work. That would save CCC money for sure.

    Right now Level Up is not mandatory for low scoring CPS students, but it could become mandatory in the future and this worries those of us who work with higher functioning disabled CPS students who desperately need additional remedial course work. Level Up could be the harbinger of a plan to largely eliminate remedial course work and that leaves many disabled CPS graduates without any option at all.

    Journalists in this town really do not dig to see what might be behind something. Level Up is presented simply as a good thing, a new service, when it could actually lead to fewer services for struggling CPS graduates in the future.

    Rod Estvan

  • The presumptions that posters are making about the inteligence level of CPS students who graduate and still require remedial education is very sad. Many of the disabled students going on to city college are among the best in the CPS system with ACT scores in the 15 to 17 range. Most of these students have formal IQs within the normal range. The students in the CCC programs for the developmentally disabled clearly did not have IQ scores within the so called normal range. I do agree that college is not for everyone, but the problem many disabled CPS graduates have is that they were not effectively instructed and passed from grade to grade. This is because CPS does not provide the instructional time necessary for these students to learn, and this does not mean just a longer school day but additional special education teachers and time for direct small group instruction in additon to regular education classes that are modified for these students.

    Now as to the idea that the trades are the meal ticket for those students who are not academically able to make it via college. I do not think the posters are aware of something called the International Organization for Standardization and ISO standards for the trades. For example in relation to plumbing there is something called International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials it issues what is called a professional certificate in plumbing which requires significant math and science skills.

    Up to now ISO has not been able to force the US plumbing trades to require such certification, but in order to do international work it is often required. This is not the case just with plumbers, but in many trades including auto repair, etc, etc.

    In the future many students who might get an overall ACT score of 19, but have relatively weak math skill might not have what it takes to enter some trades. Clearly based of basic skills test results in the last year many of those applying to become teachers also may not have what it takes to reach ISO certification standards for many trades in the future.

    Rod Estvan

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