High School Scores Look Awful

Today's big news is that the Prairie State test scores for last year are out, and look pretty grim.

High school test scores fall to a new low Tribune: About half of Illinois public high school students flunked state exams in reading, math and science this year, the worst performance in the history of the 11th-grade Prairie State Achievement Examination, statewide test results show.

Union seeks to undo longer day at 13 schools WBEZ: The Chicago Teachers Union is seeking an injunction against Chicago Public Schools, which has tried to convince teachers to accept a longer day,  school by school. A majority of teachers at 13 schools have voted to approve that longer day.

Supporting labor unions Tribune:  "Casualties of a labor war" (Editorial, Oct. 17) asks why the Chicago Teachers Union is going to war at the Illinois Labor Relations Board over the schools.

Ald. Burke opposes Emanuel on charging religious schools for water Tribune:  One of the City Council’s most powerful members today questioned two key ways Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed to generate millions of dollars in revenue that would help close the city’s wide budget gap.

New teacher evaluation overlooks special ed students: advocate Catalyst:  As state officials prepare to roll out a new teacher evaluation that is partially tied to student test scores, a leading advocate wants them to “think long and hard” to avoid adopting a process that inadvertently harms special education students.

Chicago teachers are protesting, but are they being heard? Medill Reports:  The Chicago Teachers Union and others who have issues with Chicago Public Schools have taken to the streets to protest and voice their various concerns, but is anyone.

Chicago Public Schools reunion set for Nov. 5 AP:  The third reunion for past and current employees of the Chicago Public Schools system will be Nov. 5.


Filed under: Daily News Roundup


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  • Low scores are the direct consequence of teachers caving to CPS mandates

  • Yeah, it probably has nothing to do with CPS having one of the shortest school days and school years of any major city in the US, robbing our children of instructional time. Union power!

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    mrobertson718 - you haven't done your homework - or maybe that's the unions fault!

    Way way back in 1985, Charles R. Link and James G Mulligan offered an answer to the 'longer school day' question in a study appropriately entitled "The merits of a longer school day"….from Economics of Education Review, Volume 5, Issue 4, 1986, pages 373-38, if you care to read it

    …if you don't care to read it, well, that's probably the union's fault for dampening your 'motivation'.

    So, for your high-chair, spoon-feeding convenience, here is the on-line Abstract

    "This paper presents results of an empirical study of the effects of increasing the amount of math and reading instruction offered to third through sixth grade students. The data come from a nationwide random sample for the 1976–1977 school year. While blacks and Hispanics received significantly greater hours of instruction than whites, all groups experienced diminishing returns at the observed amounts of instruction. In nearly all cases there appeared to be little benefit expected from a further increase in the amount of math and reading instruction offered per day."

    Or you can purchase the entire article for $19.95 (you know, that non-union, free-market price) at

    To be fair, there are studies that suggest positive outcomes can be achieved within certain sub-groups with a longer school day, but they all seem to suggest that careful planning is a requirement, a variable that only the union seems to be supporting.

    And by the way, hasn't Chicago already experimented with longer school days?

    I think they were called SES - supplemental education services - or more aptly put, 'after school programs'.

    SES ran 60-90 minutes and that was a complete failure… And as for an extended year? We already have that, too! I think they call it summer school!

    Years and years of after-school and summer-school- and the drop-out rate still hasn't budged

    …the Consortium on Chicago School Research just told us that no progress has occurred in 20 years!

    ...and the recent Prairie State test scores are headed for a Guinness World Records low!

    Is a longer school day and extended year really what is best for the citizens of Chicago?

    …maybe our 'leaders' are selling us out.

    But why shouldn't they?

    If the suckers of Chicago fell for it for the past 20 years, they must be good for another 20.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Exactly! Awesome comment.

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    Some of the highest performing districts in the state have a 6 or 6hr 15 minute day. We are on par with core subjects but lacking sorely in PE, arts, recess etc. If you take the time to look at other schedules around the state you will see that our core instructional time is not lacking.

  • fb_avatar

    Mr. Robertson: We don't have one of the shortest school days or years of any major city when we are looking at instructional time and our high school day is average length.

    We do have a lot of anti-teacher, anti-student propaganda which is particularly damaging to all parties, not the least of which being the truth.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    We actually do have a shorter elementary school day at 5hr45 minutes than most districts, but many districts have a 6 - 6.5 hr day (some 7) with a broader curriculum. I can't find any districts with a 7.5 hour day and I have been doing a lot of research. Many districts have a 15-60 minutes longer but have daily recess, PE, and more arts, social studties, language.

  • "Is a longer school day and extended year really what is best for the citizens of Chicago?"

    Yes, it is. There is abundant research to support this. The CTU recently retooled their position in support of a smarter day which would involve hiring more art, music and phys ed teachers. This is an idea that many parents could get behind.

    But the idea that the union-negotiated perk that passes for a school day we currently have as being beneficial to our children? That's exactly the kind of self serving, navel gazing CTU bullhockey that turns taxpayers off. Good luck selling that mularkey.

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    This is not exactly 'abundant' research.

    CPS must have posted these links with the expectation that most people will simply not read them. You apparently read the titles, but not the actual content.

    "Extending the School Day or School Year: A systematic Review of Research by Duke University"

    CPS is careful here to not publish the "Implications for policy and practice" section of the study…my guess is that CPS has no intention of implementing the policy suggestions.

    Here is one conclusion of the study, one that CPS opportunistically failed to post: extended time schools "ought to be an option available to families who desire it as well as for teachers who prefer working in an extended school context". Not a mandate for all CPS schools.

    "School Year Length and Student Performance: Quasi-Experimental Evidence"

    Quasi-Experimental Design - lacks random assignment with little internal validity, in other words, junk science with all the integrity of the palm-reader or reliability of a crystal ball.

    "Designing for knowledge integration: The impact of instructional time"

    The conclusion of the study is that "deep understanding of science requires sustained study of carefully designed materials" - the abstract doesn't even mention extending the school day - it mentions 'carefully designed materials'.

    "Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative 2010-11 Update"

    The Proficiency Gains reported in this paper are probably as solid as the ones that CPS has been reporting for the past 20 years…you know, the ones that were just debunked by the consortium. Suspiciously missing in this report are any comparable NAEP scores. Why are NAEP scores not included? I think that we all know why!

    "Analysis of Massachusetts Schools Shows Additional learning Time has a Positive Impact"

    Simply a kindergarten sized bar graph of the Massachusetts Expanded Learning Time Initiative - again, no comparable NAEP.

    "National Center on Time and Learning"

    Wow! This one is just adding some junk to the menu - it's not even a study - it's just a report on Chairman Harkin and Republican Senator Enzi latest efforts to push a bill supporting expanded time school reform...

    "Time Well Spent: Eight Powerful Practices of Successful, Expanded-Time Schools"

    Feel good report with no evidence of 'at-scale' generalizability'. Any report that mentions KIPP to promote its' initiative is less than honest. KIPP routinely 'council out' underachieving students, despite what they claim - the "Relentlessly Assessed, Analyzed" student data clearly illustrates this little fact. And again, nothing from NAEP.

    "ACT Average Scores data from CPS Office of Performance."

    Well, anything from the CPS Office of Performance is suspicious. Again, refer to the recent Consortium report, or just the recently reported CPS decline in ACT scores - that was just last August and I guess we're all supposed to have forgotten that report...

    "Noble Street College Prep Academic Calendar"

    This has got to be the most ridiculous of them all - a post of the Noble Street Charter School Academic Calendar?

    "Entire Graduating Class of Urban Prep Charter Academy Accepted to College"

    Again, apples to oranges - at Prep if you don't like the schedule, you can go…those willing to make the sacrifice will reap the rewards…good for the students at Prep and the commitment that they made.

    "Urban Prep charter School seniors get into Ivy League schools"


    "Learning Time in America: Trends to Reform the American School Calendar"

    Feel good menu of recent legislations and some of the 'champions'.

    "Student Characteristics and Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools"

    "Hi! This is KIPP! Did we mention that we kick nearly 60% of your kids out?"

    "Education chief favors longer school year"

    This one is about Arne Duncan - did they mention that he also 'supports' teachers being payed $150,000 a year? Not just schools being bribed a lump sum of $150,000

    "Shortchanged by the Bell"
    More of the same KIPP public relations/advertising

    "Improving Achievement and Closing Gaps: What Can We Learn from Schools that Get it Right?"

    Finally, information from NAEP - unfortunately,not published by NAEP - just carefully selected NAEP data that seems to support the proposition.

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    CPS Clark St. is a total mess! CTU under Karen Lewis has the cajones to tell it like it is in regards to CPS daily operations. CPS CEO's are not competent to run CPS. The proof is in the way it operates and cannot stop itself from shooting themselves in the feet arms, body and head! Brizard is the mouth piece used to distract the public. Operating a school district, using unsound policies not based on educational research, is hurting the students and disrupts good teaching. Sad but true! CTU is doing the job of what the media should be doing, exposing a surprisingly inept school district that really is set up to fail. Rahm gets the blame, the buck stops at the top!

  • Hey MRobertson718,
    View how the anonymous response provided facts and research to back up the argument. You have just provided rhetoric and opinion. How Rahm-like.

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    Hey FrontRow

    Apparently Annonymous had lots of time on his hands this summer to search the internet for semi-scholarly articles that mirror his flawed world view.

  • mroberston718

    Rather than believing and repeating anything your political hero-hacks tell you to think, believe, and repeat, possibly you should spend a little time to research yourself, and learn to think for yourself! After thoroughly examining the evidence, arrive at more informed conclusion. Take the red pill and see 'how deep the rabbit hole goes'.

  • The only folks taking pills on this thread are the malcontent fist-in-the-air pro-union types that gobble up what CTU tells them to think, believe and repeat. If you think parents accept your position that the obscenely short CPS school day and school year was conceived for the benefit of our children, well maybe you need to pull your head out of your rabbit hole. You cheapen the image of your profession by defending this indefensible nonsense.

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    gee mrobertson718

    you're a bit emotional - they do have medication for these
    conditions, you know, or try deep breathing exercises, decaf, Valarium, light some candles, soft music, cut down on the salt...

  • In reply to mrobertson718:

    (v.) (1) To deliberately post derogatory or inflammatory comments to a community forum, chat room, newsgroup and/or a blog in order to bait other users into responding.

    I suggest we just ignore mrobertson718. She/He/It is wrong in asserting that there is abundant research supporting the longer school day/year. S/he/It has nothing to contribute to the discussion other than gratuitous insults. Therefore, one must assume that mrobertson718 is merely a troll.

    Don't feed the trolls. They only come back for more.

  • Feeding the students for forced CPS breakfast easily takes 20 minutes away per day from elementary school instruction. Why isn't Brizard doing something about this as it wastes instruction everyday? Then we feed them this and a heavy lunch and give them no PE except 38 minutes per week. Shame on him.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Brizard is all about making "good" PR and no more. Brizard was hired to distract the public of the Rahm Machine bully tactics going on to break the union and privatize public education. I could call Brizard lazy but that would be off mark. Brizard has no successful experience as a Superintendent of schools nor has the necessary skill sets to bring about a transformation of the school system. Rahm is about his corporate buddies and not the children of Chicago.

  • Feeding the students for forced CPS breakfast easily takes 20 minutes away per day from elementary school instruction. Why isn't Brizard doing something about this as it wastes instruction everyday?

  • In reply to ivanovvv86:

    ivanovvv86 This conversation is about a year old but here is an answer. Hungry kids make for poor students and become disruptive in class affecting learning for all. Many students (across the economic spectrum) do not eat breakfast at home and although CPS has always offered breakfast at school before classes started kids were just not getting to school early to take advantage. Parents who don't feed kids breakfast are also unlikely to get them to school early.

    The program was implemented by interim CEO Terry Mazany who was universally lauded by teachers and parents as an excellent administrator.

    Here is an article from the web: http://www.livestrong.com/article/444098-the-importance-of-breakfast-on-school-performance/

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