What CPS & Evanston Have In Common

They both perform below the international average for developed countries.  That's according to the right-leaning folks at Education Next, who point out in this post (Do Rich People Know What’s Going On in Their Local Schools?) many affluent communities come in just above or well below average on international standards, despite the perception that they produce amazing results.  Making matters worse, from Evanston's point of view at least, there are a handful of similarly well-off communities with much higher scores in other parts of the US (Lower Merion, PA, for example, or Ann Arbor). Why Evanston schools can't produce scores as good as those places I have no idea.

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  • Evanston's "gap" problems are well-documented. Having served on the District 65 School Board for 8 years, I can attest that it isn't for lack of trying.

  • Because the achievement problem is not just a money problem as everyone keeps claiming. It's a professional service issue - from the top to the bottom.

  • wrong. the problem is education and the reason why it will never be fixed is because educators and non-educators keep targeting the schools and educators as the root of the problem. The root of the problem isn't the schools. It is outside the school. You can take every CPS student and bus them to New Trier High School and their test scores would plummet - and the teachers would be blamed. If you take all the New Trier kids and send them to the worst CPS high schools their test scores would skyrocket - and principals and teachers and everyone would be claiming that they did something different within the school that made the difference.

    Education takes place 24 hours a day. It takes place when you sleep, when you wake up, when you go to school, when you play, when you watch tv, at home doing whatever, on the phone, homework, anything and anywhere - unless you are brain dead. So when you add up all the minutes a student has spent inside a classroom and compare it to all the minutes they spend outside a classroom over the course of a student who attends school for 13 years from K through 12th grade, learning inside a school classroom in front of a teacher accounts for only 10% of their time to learn. But the testing and the instructional material that is issued by grade level by all schools is based on a pacing scale that includes learning that took place in the other 90% of an individual's time where learning takes place. So even if the CPS were to get the greatest teachers in the world, with the greatest curriculum ever, the 10% of the time they have to educate students would still end up producing students inferior to the the students who have a better education in the other 90% of their time outside of the school. So that is why I laugh at all the Curriculum and Instructional "geniuses" and "mayors" who come on board with these new ideas and changes that will fare no better than those before them.

    I will give you an example. My brother is a Harvard Law School graduate. He taught his daughter how to read at age four. By the time she went to kindergarten, she was reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. He didn't use any fancy curriculum design to achieve this. Nor did he use any fancy curriculum design to develop himself into a below average high school student to a straight A college student. Both of them achieved these levels based on what they did OUTSIDE the school (that 90% time frame), not inside the school. Both examples prove that 1) having educated parents make a difference in a child's early years and 2) that later on in life you can still achieve at the highest levels, regardless of how far behind you are, regardless of the education level of your parents, through self-motivation and 3) a fancy curriculum design isn't going to make a difference in that 10% learning time frame.

    You see, if a curriculum design was that significant, then we would have seen some school district with mostly poverty students a long time ago reach the same levels as a suburban counterpart somewhere in this large country. But it has never happened. And it won't happen, until someone figures out a way to target educating students during other 90% of time that a majority of the learning actually takes place. But the best way to educate students is individualized pacing. Get rid of the grading system. For starters, advance students monthly or no longer than quarterly, not yearly, at the elementary level, and give them options to advance faster or to get back on pace quickly.

    While I don't agree with how they are doing it and the slam against teachers, Mayor Rahm and JC are doing the right thing as far as pushing for an extended day for inner city kids. Believe me, this will only help kids no matter what subjects are used during the extra minutes. Boarding schools would be even better. But the bottom line is that no one is going to come in and make changes in the classroom that is going to make any significant difference, unless those changes impact an individual's education outside the classroom.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I am absolutely fascinated as to why the author of this post felt in was necessary to remain anonymous, the argument is clearly a legitimate one even if you do not agree with all aspects of it. I suspect one reason this was posted as anonymous might be the author feared being accused of having low expectations for lower income students. Unfortunately that fear is a legitimate one, because CPS and our current Mayor present k-12 public education to the poor of Chicago as part of a Horatio Alger myth, with its promise that if you study, work hard, and play by the rules, economic security will be yours. The way the longer school day is being presented is part of that myth making.

    I don’t agree with this statement in the post “later on in life you can still achieve at the highest levels, regardless of how far behind you are, regardless of the education level of your parents, through self-motivation.” While there are individual students this may be true for, based on National longitudinal data from postsecondary transcripts that have been studied over and over again the vast majority of poor urban students will not achieve at the highest levels. A few will, but most will not. While college is perceived as a given for many middle- and upper-income students graduating from high school it is not for low income students and we should not create illusions that all these students can succeed if only they are sufficiently motivated.

    Even if CPS or ETHS get through some miracle the average ACT score of low income students into the low 20s, middle and upper income families will push their children even more and the average admissions standards for competitive colleges will rise even higher.

    Does this mean teachers and parents of low income children simply resign themselves to their fate? I don’t think so, I think we keep trying to pull up those students that can be educated to high levels while always pointing out how the game in our nation is set up for low income students to fail to achieve.

    Rod Estvan

  • sorry, my rant should start off "the problem 'in' education" - not "the problem 'is' education"

  • Just don't say this to reformers -- they will accuse you of having low expectations. Bad educator!

  • Send half the students from New Trier to CPS and half the students from CPS to New Trier. Problem solved. (Hat Tip: Thurgood Marshall.)

  • Alex,
    Do you have access to the UofC report that concludes that the reforms to CPS made under the Daley administration have been a failure. Either BEZ or BBM had it on the news this morning.

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